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Brazil’s sinking city weighs on Latin America’s largest petrochemicals producer

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on Financial Times or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Maceió, a city in north-eastern Brazil, faces an environmental disaster due to underground salt mining by Braskem, Latin America's largest petrochemicals producer  
• This activity has caused soil subsidence, damaging buildings and roads, and forcing around 55,000 people to evacuate

🔭 The context: The problem emerged in 2018 with structural damages in the Pinheiro neighborhood and then in 2019 the Geological Survey of Brazil report linked the subsidence to mining activities
• Braskem has halted rock salt extraction and is undertaking remedial works

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: This incident highlights the environmental and societal risks of industrial activities, especially in urban areas
• It emphasizes the need for sustainable mining practices and corporate accountability in environmental stewardship and community protection

⏭️ What's next: Braskem faces legal actions and financial challenges, having provisioned R$14.6bn ($3bn) for related costs
• Ongoing legal cases, including in the Netherlands and potential actions by Alagoas’ public defender’s office, will test corporate responses to environmental damages
• The situation is gaining national attention in Brazil, influencing policy under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's administration

💬 One quote: "It was demoralising for these people who suffered so much and continue to suffer today" (Augusto Cícero da Silva, community leader)

📈 One stat: The Alagoas government estimates the disaster's impact at R$35.8bn, reflecting the extensive economic, social, and environmental costs

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