CBC Radio, The Current
Deluge of toxic tailing water slammed into the town of Mariana in 2015, killing 19
Victims of a 2015 mine collapse disaster in Brazil are hopeful for justice after the U.K.'s court of appeal agreed to hear the case against one of the country's largest mining companies.
"This is the largest environmental disaster ever in Brazilian history," said Tom Goodhead, global managing partner for PGMBM, the law firm behind the lawsuit. "The economic impact and the environmental impact continues to this day."
In November 2015, two dams in the Brazilian city of Mariana collapsed, unleashing about 40 million cubic metres of water and iron ore tailings from the nearby mine, contaminating 640 km of water along the Doce River.
Mining companies should be held accountable abroad: advocate
Catherine Coumans says it's no surprise that a program set up by the companies responsible for the disaster in the first place has been found lacking.
"These companies are often headquartered in very wealthy countries, such as Canada, but they operate in much poorer developing countries and there they cause serious environmental human rights abuses," said Coumans, the research coordinator and Asia Pacific Programme Coordinator for the NGO Mining Watch Canada.
"But it's almost impossible for people in those countries ... to hold these powerful multinationals to account."
No Canadian company is associated with the Mariana, Brazil, collapse.
Coumans says Canadian mining companies are often known around the world for the harm they've caused, and that more needs to be done to ensure accountability around the world.
She pointed to a private member's bill introduced by NDP MP Peter Julian, Bill C-262, that asserts "the corporate responsibility to prevent, address and remedy" harmful actions conducted by Canadian companies abroad.
It was introduced last November and completed its first reading in March.
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