The case involves about 380 families (1,100 people) living in a village surrounded by 5 pig iron industries: 1) Vienna Steel S / A, 2) Steel Maranhao S / A - SIMASA, 3) Co. steel Valley Pindare 4) Pig Iron Maranhao Ltda. - FERGUMAR; and 5) Gusa Nordeste S / A, beyond the railroad and warehouse ore of Vale SA. The town was founded in the 70s. The industries came in the second half of the 80s.
Environmental and public health technical reports conducted by reputable professionals already attested at least since 2007 to the impossibility of coexistence between these industries and human settlements in that area. Rates of skin disease, respiratory and vision ailments in the population are much higher than the national average. There are records of deaths of children in contact with the incandescent slag.
Since 2008 the Associacao de Moradores de Piquia de Baixo (the Association of Residents of Piquia de Baixo) has forwarded complaints to different agencies about the seriousness of the situation due to the high levels of pollution. From 2010, the residents' association held a consultation with all residents, which almost entirely chose to fight for their collective resettlement in a new location, free from contamination.
The State and Municipal environmental agencies, responsible for licenses that allow full operation of businesses are not performing proper inspections and monitoring, despite requests made by the prosecutor and the Association of Residents with partner organizations.
Residents receive support and direct assistance from the Parish of St. John the Baptist of Açailandia, Diocese of Empress and the Center for the Defense of Life and Human Rights of Açailandia. The case attracted the attention of human rights organizations in other states in Brazil and internationally, having been the subject of recent study by the Worldwide Human Rights Movement Global (FIDH), Justice and Justiça nos Trilhos (Justice on Rails), which resulted in a report published in May 2011.
The Prosecutor's Office and the Public Defender of the State of Maranhao are conducting a negotiating table aimed at effecting resettlement. This process includes the pig iron industry (represented by SIFEMA), Vale SA, the Municipality of Açailandia and the Government of the State of Maranhao, besides the association of residents and the organizations that support them.
In May 2011 an agreement was signed, ordering the City to expropriate land where the new neighborhood will be built. In the same agreement, the SIFEMA was obliged to transfer to the City the value of corresponding compensation to be paid to the owner of the land.
SIFEMA has delayed the transfer of funding needed to build the new neighborhood. Locals also demand that the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Vale do Rio Doce Company) assumes its share of responsibility in the conflict. In April 2014 they participated in the Meeting of Shareholders of the company to publicly denounce their omission in relation to the situation.