Norwegian metals firm Norsk Hydro remains under court-imposed production cuts at its troubled aluminum plant in northern Brazil. A federal court has upheld the cuts, which have reduced Hydro’s production by half, on the grounds the plant still doesn’t have a functioning drainage system that can handle heavy rains.
Hydro’s Alunorte plant has been disrupted since storms in February allegedly led to spills of untreated wastewater into the Para River. Hydro has defended its record and denies polluting local water supplies, but local authorities aren’t convinced. It’s all led to a crisis for Hydro at what ranks as the world’s largest aluminum refinery.
Local officials have also accused Hydro of lacking respect for the local environment and population. Public prosecutor Eliane Moreira recently told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that she thinks Hydro has had “colonialistic attitudes” and that they’ve “negotiated as if we have an obligation to do what a foreign company says. On the contrary, it’s our authorities who decide what must be done.”
Hydro spokesman Halvor Molland continues to defend Hydro’s record and denies the company has unleashed metal residue that’s greater than what’s allowed by both the World Health Organization and Brazilian authorities. Hydro has also apologized to the local community.