Mining Waste Dam collapse kills at least 11 and left 600 homeless
|Two mining waste dams burst in Bento Rodrigues, in Mariana, Minas Gerais state in Brazil|
A major ecological and humanitarian disaster is unfolding at the Samarco iron mine in Brazil. Two impoundment dams built to contain toxic waste from a massive iron mine burst on Nov 5, burying a village in toxic mud and contaminating rivers on a more or less permanent basis. Cars, trucks, houses and people were swept away by the thick mud, which is contaminated with heavy metals and other mine waste. Crops were wiped out, as well as fish and other wildlife. More than 200 downstream towns were affected.
The spill contaminated about 300 miles of the Rio Doce as well as waterways in the state of Espirito Santo. The Rio Doce is expected to be polluted for real long time.
The Samarco mine is a joint venture of Australia’s BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining firm, and Brazilian iron ore mining firm Vale. Brazilian authorities warned the company of the possibility of the dams collapsing two years ago. Mining disasters are not accidents. They are the result of mining companies spending as little as possible on safety and infrastructure. BHP Billiton has been cited in Australia for its crappy safety record.
But there is some justice in the world. The company isn’t doing well financially, leading the board of directors to cut the compensation of Ceo Andrew Mackenzie from $8 million to only $4.6 million. Poor bastard.
There are approximately 700 impoundments in the US holding back billions of gallons of waste from coal fired electrical plants.