Tens of thousands of Brazilian residents have joined in a class-action lawsuit against Norwegian aluminium producer Norsk Hydro ASA for allegedly being harmed by a wastewater release in the state of Para three years ago.
The suit is being brought on behalf of about 11,000 families of the Cainquiama – the Amazon Association of Mixed Race, Indigenous and Quilombolas. At issue is what they say is “the incorrect disposal of toxic waste in the Murucupi River, as well as other effects from the presence of Norsk Hydro installations in the region,” said the law firm PGMBM last week.
Lawyers with PGMBM say the plaintiffs have suffered several ailments as a result of the alleged pollution.
“Victims have been exposed to toxic residues from the processing of aluminium, which can cause health problems such as increased incidences of cancer, Alzheimer’s, skin diseases, stomach problems and diarrhea.”
Plaintiffs say the effects arose mainly due to a release of untreated water from its alumina refinery Alunorte in early 2018. At the time, Norsk Hydro admitted to the release, but it has denied all allegations that the release resulted in the pollution of the local watershed.
The release led to Brazilian courts suspending operations at Alunorte for a time, which also resulted in a shutdown at Albras as well. Altogether the courts halted operations at the alumina refinery for 15 months. Suspension of operations at the world’s biggest alumina refinery led to substantial supply and price fluctuations for several months.
PGMBM said they chose the Netherlands as a venue for the suit due to “frustrated at a lack of progress in the Brazilian legal system.”