From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Brazilian pesticide workers fight for damages
Thursday 31 May 2012
by Our Foreign Desk
Brazilian prosecutors asked a court on Wednesday to force oil firm Shell and the world’s largest chemical company BASF to fork out £320 million to hundreds of people allegedly made sick by working at a pesticide factory.
Many have suffered from severe health problems since, including prostate cancer, problems with short-term memory and issues with their thyroid gland.
At least 61 former workers at the plant have died in recent years. Others have seen various health issues arise in children born since they worked at the site.
“We have a set of technical reports that confirm that the soil is totally contaminated, the water is totally contaminated and that workers were massively exposed to toxic chemicals,” said prosecution spokesman Rafael Almeida.
“We’ve got sick people who urgently need the payment now because they’re dying. Delaying the payment further is simply wrong.”
Mr Almeida said prosecutors are now asking that Shell Brasil SA and BASF SA pay the money into an account so that it can immediately be available once a higher court in Brasilia rules on the case.
In its 2011 annual report, BASF SE, the German partner of BASF SA, acknowledged that the site was “significantly contaminated by the production of crop protection products.”
BASF claims the site was contaminated before it bought the plant. The company filed a lawsuit in Brazil last year asking a court to hold Shell fully responsible for any damages. BASF said the companies are still wrangling among themselves over the payments.
Shell said in a statement that it had not been notified about the new action by prosecutors, but complained that the measure had been taken before a final ruling on the lawsuit seeking damages.
The class action lawsuit against Shell and BASF includes 782 former workers.
Mr Almeida said prosecutors want to include 360 more people – including the ill children of former workers and people who worked at the site, but were not directly employed by either company.
Monsanto Faces $7.5 Billion Payout to Brazilian Farmers: here.