Pair of Independent Investigations Find No Pollution by Alunorte

Pair of Independent Investigations Find No Pollution by Alunorte
Inspection of Alunorte Bauxite residue deposit. Source: Norsk Hydro

Norsk Hydro A.S.A. reported the findings of two reviews of the ongoing situation at Alumina do Norte do Brasil S.A.’s (Alunorte) refining plant, both of which confirm the company’s contention that the plant released no toxins during a flooding event several weeks ago.

The two reports, of which one was a review by an internal task force and the other a study conducted by third-party firm SGW Services, both came to the same findings. To wit, Hydro says the studies showed no evidence of an overflow from Alunorte’s wastewater retention ponds, making any subsequent pollution impossible.

The reports come shortly after the firm announced NOK500 million (US$64.8 million) in substantial upgrades to the facility, including plans to boost capacity by 50 percent along with strengthening the plant’s wastewater system to a degree that it is better able to handle inundation of a similar sort to that which it experienced this summer.

Hydro’s President and CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg said that, though the reports validate his firm’s contention that no contamination occurred as a result of the late flooding, the company will still use the occasion as an opportunity to implement needed upgrades.

“Both reports confirm our previous statements that there was no overflow from the bauxite residue deposit areas, as well as no indication or evidence of contamination to nearby local communities from Alunorte as a result of the heavy rainfall in February.

“We have initiated several measures to further enhance Alunorte’s operational standards, including water treatment capacity, emergency preparedness plans and maintenance. We will also strengthen community engagement to ensure that we contribute to sustainable development in Barcarena in line with Hydro’s CSR Strategy.”

Beginning production in 1995, Alunorte is the world’s largest alumina refinery. Boasting a nameplate capacity of 6.3 million metric tons per annum and a workforce of around 2,000 individuals, the plant supplies alumina to buyers in Brazil, the Middle East, North America, and Europe.