May 1, 2018 / 8:24 PM / a year ago

Brazilian federal court upholds output cut at Norsk Hydro's Alunorte

SAO PAULO, May 1 (Reuters) - A Brazilian federal judge on Tuesday upheld a state court decision handed down in February that forced Norsk Hydro ASA to cut output at a major alumina refinery, the latest blow for the Norwegian company’s operations in Brazil.

In February, a court in Pará, the northern state where the Alunorte refinery is located, ordered the refinery to reduce its output by 50 percent, following claims by prosecutors of a waste spill at one of Alunorte’s bauxite refuse deposits.

The company has since admitted it discharged untreated rain and surface water into a river, which it called “unacceptable,” but has denied significant parts of prosecutors’ claims and has said there was no evidence of lasting environmental impact.

In his decision on Tuesday upholding the lower court’s ruling, federal Judge Arthur Pinheiro Chaves said that failure to honor the conditions set by the courts will result in a daily fine of 1 million reais ($285,000).

A representative for Norsk Hydro did not have an immediate comment.

In April, the company sued state prosecutors in Para in a bid to spur a new study to assess the spill.

Reporting by Gram Slattery and Flavia Bohone Editing by Leslie Adler

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