Following confirmation of Greenpeace’s findings that uranium has entered the water supply surrounding Brazil’s Caetité uranium mine, the mine’s operator INB (Brazilian Nuclear Industries) are to be investigated by the country’s Federal Prosecution Office.
At a public meeting attended by 1,200 people from the region and lasting over five hours, concerns were voiced about INB not properly answering questions about spills and accidents at the mine, safety issues, and the matter of contaminated drinking water.
In a precedent for Brazil’s nuclear industry, federal prosecutors announced the investigation will be fully independent from INB and CNEN (the National
Commission on Nuclear Energy who are also bizarrely a major shareholder in INB), and INB will be legally obliged to pay its costs. One of the prosecutors said: ‘We will break the policy of silence around the Brazilian Nuclear Program, at least here in Caetité where it begins’.
The prosecutors have also formally recommended that Ibama (the environmental licensing agency) refuse INB’s request to double the mine’s output. They have also recommended that the National Prosecution Headquarters begin monitoring Brazil’s nuclear programme as a whole.
This is a great victory for the people of the region and a real chance to bring Brazil’s nuclear industry to account.