Toxic Waste from Norwegian Hydro Threatens Amazon and Drinking Water Supply in Brazil

Photo: Instituto Evandro Chagas

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Half state owned Norwegian aluminum company Hydro is accused of serious environmental damage in Brazil.

In addition to a leak of toxic mining debris that has contaminated several communities in Barcarena, the Norwegian giant Hydro is accused to have used a “clandestine pipeline to discharge untreated effluent”, according to Brazilian media.

The report from Health’s Ministry’s Evandro Chagas Institute reveals that heavy rains led to the overflow of several basins, including those in Hydro Alunorte’s compound around the metropolitan area of Para’s capital, located in the Amazon region, threatening the area’s drinking water supply.

The report issued last week by the Ministry notes that at least three communities in the region of the Amazon are at risk.

Samples taken by the ministry’s technicians found high levels of lead, aluminum, sodium and other substances harmful to human and animal health, wrote Rio Times.

After denying irregularities for weeks, Hydro and Para’s environmental agency admitted, in a note, the existence of the channel found by the researchers and will look in to the claims, wrote Universo Online.

But two days ago Hydro wrote: “Technical surveys by different surveillance authorities have confirmed that there has been no leakage from or rupture of red mud. Hydro cooperates with the relevant authorities and the local community.”

May Lead to a new Environmental Disaster

Locals are worried the toxic leakage may cause another environmental disaster like the 2015 dam bust in Mariana, Minas Gerais, which killed 19 persons and contaminated thousands of acres of land and waterways, according to Rio Times.

Contacting the The Nordic Page, a local who wanted to be anonymous accused Brazil HYDRO of not being as serious and law-abiding as in Norway.

– What is more disappointing is that the Norwegian government is a shareholder of such a company where compliance doesn’t exist and Brazilian environmental laws are ignored, wrote he.

The Nordic Page tried to contact the Hydro officials in Norway but so far we have not received any answer. We will update the case when we receive an explanation from the company.

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About Hydro

Norsk Hydro ASA (often referred to as just Hydro) is a Norwegian aluminium and renewable energy company, headquartered in Oslo. As of 2016, Hydro is one of the largest aluminium companies worldwide. It has operations in some 50 countries around the world and is active on all continents. The Norwegian state owns 43.8% of the company through the Ministry of Trade and Industry. A further 6.5% is owned by Folketrygdfond, which administers the Government Pension Fund of Norway.

Hydro’s bauxite mine is situated approximately 70 kilometers from the municipality of Paragominas in northeastern Pará, on Miltonia Plateau 3.

Hydro Paragominas began operating in March 2007 and today it mines about 15.2 million metric tons of ore per year, producing 9.9 million metric tons of bauxite annually.

Current deposits in Paragominas represent a lifetime of 41 years for mining activities, in a process aligned with the best environmental and operational safety practices.

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