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Shell, Basf Ordered to Pay $354 Million in Brazil Plant Contamination Case


By Laura Price – Aug 20, 2010 1:18 PM GMT+0100

The Brazilian units of Basf SE and Royal Dutch Shell Plc. were fined a total of 622 million reais ($354 million) after former workers suffered health problems because of contamination at a plant in Paulinia, Sao Paulo state, from the 1970s to 2002.

Basf SA and Shell do Brasil will also have to pay 64,500 reais in damages to each former worker and any children born during or after their service at the plant, according to an e- mailed statement from the Paulinia Labor Court yesterday. The payments cover medical treatment, exams and individual damages.

Shell and Basf have five days, starting yesterday, to publish a statement on the decision on Brazil’s two largest television networks, according to the court. Former workers at the Paulinia plant then have 90 days to present health documents. Basf plans to appeal the decision, according to a spokeswoman.

The Paulinia unit was built by Shell in the late 1970s and in 1992 was sold to Cyanamid, which was later bought by Basf, according to the statement. The ruling includes former employees of Shell, Basf and Cyanamid.

“We are of the opinion that the environmental damage was caused by Shell, and we will appeal the decision,” Jennifer Moore-Braun, a spokeswoman for Basf in Ludwigshafen, Germany, said in a telephone interview today.

Shell officials didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Price in London at [email protected]

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