Brazil senators suggest charges against Braskem over sinking city

By Thomson Reuters May 21, 2024 | 12:39 PM

By Ricardo Brito

BRASILIA (Reuters) – A Brazilian congressional committee on Tuesday suggested charging petrochemical producer Braskem with crimes against the environment and public properties over the sinking soil of a city that forced thousands of families to relocate.

In its final report, the Senate committee recommended that authorities charge Braskem, one of its executives and seven former employees. It also asked for deeper investigations on alleged corruption that prior scrutiny failed to uncover.

The report, approved by senators on Tuesday, will be shared with Brazil’s Supreme Court, federal prosecutors and the comptroller general’s office. The committee seeks “civil or criminal liability for the infractions found,” it said.

Braskem declined to comment beyond citing its statement last week that it was cooperating by providing all the information requested by the committee.

The company’s rock salt mining activities in Maceio, a coastal city of nearly 1 million people in northeastern Brazil, contributed to five neighborhoods sinking and making the area “uninhabitable,” according to authorities.

The mining operations were halted in 2019. Since then, The company spent about 9.2 billion reais ($1.85 billion) on socio-environmental agreements, while more than 5 billion reais are provisioned.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito; Writing by Peter Frontini; Editing by Richard Chang)