Environmental Crime in Mina Gerais State

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By: Maxime Motard / Source: Rebelión / The Dawn / February 12, 2016.

The ecological catastrophe produced in the State of Minas Gerais was evoked during the celebration of the 15 years of the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre. Giving that the case is one of the worst ecological disaster occurred in Brazil, it was inevitable.



The breaking of two mining dams on November 5 released tens of thousands of cubic meters of contaminated mud. Over 60 million liters of a mixture of earth, silica, iron waste, aluminum and manganese spilled into the Doce River; the fifth largest river in Brazil. Immediately, millions of fish died of suffocation.

From then on on, the leakage produced by mining waste, is dragging its way into the ocean, destroying ecosystems. At the moment, 11 people were killed. 15 of the people who were working at the moment of the disaster were reported missing. The town Bento Rodrigues was wiped off the map and several towns were flooded. But the most deaths will occur from this moment on, as the contamination makes water unusable and fishing impossible and thousands have to leave their homes or perish. According to the newspaper Correo del Orinoco this dam break killed 9 tons of fish and polluted 850 kilometers of waterways. A heartbreaking fallout.


Militants that addressed this issue reminded the company’s frequent breaches of safety rules and negligence in matters of maintenance. BHP Billiton and Vale, which share the control of Samarco (the mining company), outsourced maintenance work. Although the company was sanctioned with a fine of 250 million reais, announced by the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, our point is that in front of destruction and massive pollution generated by the extractivist model, financial compensations are in vain.

The Deutsche Bank estimated the bill at over one million dollars. As social movements always remind us: only in 2014, the company’s profits were of 2.8 million dollars. In any case, the financial compensation can never be up to the disaster. No amount of money may undo what has been destroyed, solidify what has been weakened, restore life and purity to a place that no longer has it.


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Mariana’s population can not access water. The population is being displaced. Samarco tried to engage the help of the people proposing a truck for distribution of water, but the water was contaminated with kerosene. Workers and people of good will did all they could trying to save the fish, crustaceans and turtles before the arrival of the leakage. Among the volunteers, there was no member of the board of Samarco; no shareholders.

Mariana, a town that depended on the mining sector, will close its doors. Workers no longer have jobs, fishermen can no longer work, living beings can not breathe. Pollution continues its path. Economic growth and extractivism, too. All good.



Vale paid fishermen to bury dead fish, in an attempt to hide away their crime

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