On September 28, 2021, the trial against TÜV Süd was opened at the Regional Court in Munich. The trial is supposed to clarify the responsibility of TÜV Süd for the collapse of the reservoir dam in Brumadinho in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, which caused at least 270 deaths, and whether TÜV Süd has to pay compensation to the victims.

On January 25, 2019, the dam of the tailings pond of the Vale corporation's iron ore mine broke in Brumadinho, in the state of Minas Gerais. The mudslide killed nearly 300 people, destroyed homes and contaminated soil.

It was only in Septmeber 2018 that the Brazilian subsidiary of TÜV Süd certified the dam as safe, although serious defects were known and expert reports, construction drawings and other documents were missing. As early as 2017, other TÜV Süd engineers had questioned the safety of the dam. Apparently, the German parent company also knew about the deficiencies; a German manager from TÜV Süd was in constant contact with the company in Brazil.i „The transcript of a witness statement shows that the German inspectors had been involved in many questionable decisions in the period before the dam accident. And internal emails show that a TÜV manager stationed in Munich was also involved." ii

In addition, it seems that there are close personal ties between the Vale Group and the Brazilian TÜV-Süd.iii"During interrogations in Brazil, TÜV employees there had stated that they had been pressured by the Vale Group to approve the dam."iv

TÜV Süd itself, of course, denies any responsibility. "TÜV Süd is convinced that it bears no legal responsibility, nor any joint responsibility, for this terrible accident. In saying this, we do not in any way wish to deny the suffering of the victims," said TÜV Süd chief legal counsel Florian Stork [...]. The testing of the dam had been carried out properly, the stability analyses had complied with the applicable Brazilian regulations and technical standards. In addition, the operator Vale had acknowledged its liability and also already paid compensation."v

There should be no great hopes placed on the judiciary of the FRG either; the imperialist state should have little interest in condemning one of its corporations and thus admitting that German imperialism is killing. "These are serious accusations against a company that stands for independence, integrity and German thoroughness throughout the world."vi This is also shown by the fact that the current trial was not sought by the German prosecutor's office, but only came about as a result of the private lawsuit filed by the community of Brumadinho and the family of one of the victims. vii

Also today, the breach of the dam of the retention basin has a massive impact on the region. "These basins are used to trap fine-grained heavy metals from ore processing. With the breach, nearly 12 million cubic meters (12 billion liters) of sludge poured over the land below, claiming at least 300 lives. In addition, countless fields were destroyed, as well as dozens of houses in the village of Paque Cachoeira. Finally, the avalanche flowed into the Paraopeba River.

Iron oxide as such is not toxic, but sludge from iron ore processing contains high concentrations of heavy metals, which are very harmful to humans and nature.  Soils and groundwater, as well as the Paraopeba River, are contaminated for a long time and heavy metals accumulate in the body. The consequences are chronic diseases, which can lead to death.viii

Furthermore, the compensation payments of the Vale Group, as expected, do not benefit the victims and their relatives, but Vale itself and other mining companies. Infrastructure projects, such as the construction of a highway, are implemented with the money. As a result of these projects, there are 4,000 expropriations in the region by the old Brazilian state, affecting 20,000 people. ix