In Brazil, thousands of people are still living under the threat of bursting mining dams

Basso, Gustavo

Publisher:  Equal Times
Date Written:  25/03/2019
Year Published:  2019  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23562

The Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is home to several large dams many of which have burst causing death and environment damage. There is evidence that some of these disasters were predictable.




The Brazilian multinational was involved in two serious accidents, one in November 2015, near the historic town of Mariana, and one in the Brumadinho region just two months ago. In both cases, a stream of mud consisting of mining waste that had burst forth from broken dams belonging directly or indirectly to the company swept away, killing hundreds of people, as well as having a huge environmental impact....

Fear is now a daily fact of life for the people of the region. Itabira is surrounded by no less than 11 dams. One of these is Pontal, the biggest mining dam in the country, with a volume of 227 billion litres of residue water from the mining process [about five times the volume of the first disaster]. "After Mariana, we weren’t that worried, but Bruadinho scared us. Today I sleep badly, I barely close my eyes before I wake up again," says Rosa Fortunato, a pensioner who lives in Rio do Peixe, next door to the Itabiruçu dam, which today contains 130 billion litres of mining waste water....

The Minas Gerais state prosecutor's office, which also suspects the dam's management of criminal negligence, requested on 15 February the preventive detention of eight Vale engineers, responsible for the safety of the dam [Editor’s note: five other employees of Vale and the German company Tüv South, authors of the report that testified to the safety of the dam, were then arrested; they were later released by decision of the Supreme Court], as well as the seizure of computers and documents from four employees of Tüv South.

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