Brazilian residents sue Braskem in Dutch court over salt mines


LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Residents of Maceio have filed a lawsuit in a Dutch court against Brazilian petrochemicals company Braskem SA (BRKM5.SA) over cracks and sinking ground near salt mines in the Brazilian city, their legal representatives said on Monday.

The case is the latest attempt by local communities to seek compensation from large commodities companies in European courts after the UK Supreme Court on Friday allowed Nigerian residents to sue Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) (RDSa.L) in England over years of oil spills. read more

"This is, sadly, yet another case of a giant corporation that is more than happy to exploit the natural riches of an area but has had little consideration for those who live in it," Gabriella Bianchini, partner at global law firm PGMBM, said in a statement

"The families affected in Maceio have had to flee their homes. The streets are littered with cracks and sinkholes. The very earth has been removed from beneath people's feet."

Braskem, the European subsidiary of which has offices in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

A federal study in Brazil has previously found that Braskem's salt mines were the cause of cracks that destabilised homes, though Braskem has said the study is flawed.

The damages have affected more than 9,000 homes, requiring the relocation of about 17,000 residents, according to deal reached in January between the company and Brazilian prosecutors.

Representatives of PGMBM told Reuters a total figure for the compensation claims had yet to be calculated but could be in billions of Brazilian reais.

Braskem in December said it had reached a 9.1 billion reais ($1.75 billion) deal to settle lawsuits over the damage from the Maceio mines in the northeastern coastal state of Alagoas. read more

($1 = 5.3861 reais)

Reporting by Noah Browning Editing by David Goodman

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