Published on 20 August 2010 – 12:30pm
A Brazilian court has ordered Shell Brasil and international chemical giant BASF to pay a total of 490 million euros in fines and damages in connection with the exposure of workers at a Sao Paulo factory to toxic substances, Brazilian media report.
Workers suffered health problems including high blood pressure and cancer. The factory, founded by Shell in 1977 and later taken over by BASF, was closed down in 2002.
The court ruled that both companies should help pay for the treatment of the physical and mental health problems suffered by the workers and their families. Over 1000 plaintiffs are expected to benefit from the verdict, which covers treatment of the workers’ children born during or after their period of employment at the factory.
Shell has also been ordered to launch a media campaign to notify the victims and their children of their rights under the ruling. Both companies say they plan to appeal the verdict.
In the early 1990s an international research agency found that the land and groundwater around the factory were contaminated with the pesticides aldrin, endrin and dieldrin. The substances are known to be carcinogenic and affect the central nervous system.