OSLO (Reuters) - Aluminum producer Norsk Hydro said on Sunday it had found no evidence there had been a spill of waste into the environment from its Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil’s Para state and said the installation was operating as normal.
On Friday Brazilian federal and state prosecutors recommended the factory immediately suspend activity at one of its bauxite refuse deposits, as they said there had been a spill of waste following heavy rainfall on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 that affected communities in the municipality of Barcarena.
Alunorte is the world’s largest alumina refinery, transforming bauxite to alumina, which is turned into aluminum at giant smelters.
Norway’s Norsk Hydro denied there was a spill.
“Internal and external inspections have not found proof of overflow and leakage from the bauxite residue deposits at Hydro Alunorte,” the firm said on its website on Sunday.
“The water has been collected, channeled and treated in the industrial effluent treatment station as normal,” Norsk Hydro said, adding that alumina production had not been impacted.
Norsk Hydro said it had formed a task force to establish the facts and would continue to cooperate with all relevant authorities, it said.
At a news conference on Friday, Para State’s Attorney General Ricardo Negrini said there had been “no doubt” a spill to the environment had taken place, but there was as yet no data on the causes and the scale of the consequences of the incident.
Founded in 1995, Alunorte produces 5.8 million metric tonnes of alumina per year, according to Norsk Hydro’s website.
On average, 14 percent of Alunorte’s production stays in Brazil while 86 percent is exported to the Middle East, North American and Europe, it said.
Reporting by Gwladys Fouche, editing by David Evans