MUNICH (Reuters) – Germany’s TÜV SÜD has pulled out of conducting safety assessments of dams after the collapse of a Brazilian dam it had vetted killed almost 250 people in January, the industrial inspection firm’s chief executive told Reuters.
The collapse of the tailings dam, which was operated by Brazilian mining company Vale SA, flooded the town of Brumadinho with mining waste water only four months after TÜV SÜD had vouched for the safety of the structure.
“So far nobody knows the cause of the accident. And we do not know in particular what happened between September 2018 and January 2019 – if, for example, heavy equipment was being operated nearby or if there had been detonations,” Axel Stepken said in an interview.
TÜV SÜD’s September 2018 safety report had warned against operating heavy equipment on the structure which had been raised from an original height of 18 meters to 86 meters.
“The operator is responsible for safety, and that is Vale,” Stepken said, adding Vale had not sought damages from TÜV SÜD.