Gold rush-era rules to stop mining pollution are still in use – but they’re failing – by Susan Lawrence and Peter Davies (The Conversation – August 14, 2019)

https://theconversation.com/

Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, 6 November 2015

Wet, orange mud covers everything: streets, houses, cars, animals, trees, fields. The violent force of a torrent of mud has overturned cars and left them hovering on top of buildings. It has torn the roofs off houses and pushed over their walls.

The view of the town from helicopters flying above reveals a desolate landscape: sludge-caked animals struggle to free themselves, and rescue teams search desperately for survivors. Mud dyes the river orange for hundreds of kilometres downstream, and two weeks later it will flow out into the Atlantic in an expanding orange stain.

This devastation is the result of the catastrophic failure of a tailings dam: a vast settling pond built to store the muddy waste from Samarco’s Germano iron ore mine.

Late one afternoon in November 2015 the dam wall gave way. The collapse released a flood of polluted, sediment-laden water that raced down the valley below, destroying and burying everything in its path and leaving 21 people dead. The valley will never be the same.

Just three years later another tailings dam failed in the same part of Brazil, with more tragic human consequences.

For the rest of this article: https://theconversation.com/gold-rush-era-rules-to-stop-mining-pollution-are-still-in-use-but-theyre-failing-120887

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