Hopes of finding survivors are fading according to Governor Fernando Pimental following two waste water dams bursting in Minas Gerais state, Brazil .
Residents in areas affected said they were not warned once the dams burst and were only able to escape by running to higher ground upon hearing the noise of the potentially poisonous thick red sludge heading in their direction.
Brazilian mining group Samarco who operated the BHP Billiton and Vale owned mine said they were unaware of any Brazilian laws requiring an emergency alarm during an instance of dam failure.
The mud has caused destruction up to 40km away from the dams with fears that iron ore residue in the waste water could pose a health risk.
The boss of BHP Billiton is visiting the location with dozens still missing in the disaster zone. Shares in the mining multinational continuing to fall, perhaps rightly so in the wake of such a disaster. Authorities are still struggling to understand the cause of the disaster and are working on multiple theories including tremors reported in the local area prior to the dams failing.
28 people have been listed as missing including 13 mine workers, at the time of writing it’s believed that those missing are unlikely to be found alive despite 4 bodies being recovered so far.
The mud has continued to spread and it’s feared that mine tailings could enter the water supply of neighbouring state of Espirito Santo.
Samarco has been suspended from operating following the incident with critics calling for a review of the regulation surrounding mining in Brazil, one of the country’s leading sources of export revenue. At this stage the dam is likely to be shut for a number of years.
We wanted to share this to show the damage that can be done when regulations don’t seem to be up to scratch and just how damaging it can be to the human population and not just the environment when these kinds of enterprises are not correctly managed.
Keep up the fight to make sure that Australian companies are not getting around regulations or self-imposing soft regulatory requirements in order to give themselves bigger profits or we could see an incident like this!