A River Died in Brazil, Colltalers
The Amazon usually follows any mention of the words Brazil and environment, but not this time. On Nov. 5, an iron ore dam in Minas Gerais suffered a catastrophic failure, spilling 60 million cubic meters of mine waste and killing 13 people so far.
The disaster flushed tons of heavy metal-saturated mud into the Doce river basin, and has now spread out into the Atlantic. Sadly, despite its timing, it’s unlikely that the U.N. Paris Climate Conference that starts today will focus too much on it.
Brazil’s government is filing a lawsuit against the giant multinational miners Vale S.A. and BHP Billiton, whose joint venture Samarco operates the wastewater dam, to create a 20-billion reais fund to pay for the environmental disaster.
Pardon our skepticism but that won’t be enough, of course, even if it ever comes to fruition. The scale of the preventable accident, along with the many ways big companies can weasel their way out of responsibility, and Brazil’s not so stellar record protecting its natural resources, conspire against any optimism about a solution. So let’s keep our expectations low for now.
Despite the ‘20,000 Olympic pools of toxic mud’ estimated to have spilled into the river, according to U.N. special rapporteurs John Knox and Baskut Tuncak, Vale for one has already denied that a major catastrophic event even took place. The company did Continue reading