Update: 134 confirmed dead after Brazil dam breach

Article by Amanda Jasi

Andre Penner/AP/Shutterstock
An aerial view shows the area of a collapsed dam in Brumadinho, Brazil

FOLLOWING the collapse of a Vale dam in Brazil, 134 people have now been confirmed dead, with 120 of them identified. 199 people remain missing. The collapse occurred on 25 January in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Vale has now announced that it was impossible to activate the warning sirens at the dam because the event happened too quickly. The sirens require manual triggering from an emergency and communication control centre outside of the mine area, which operates 24/7.

Vale is covering the funeral expenses of victims, to the amount of R$3,928.34 (US$1068.41) each. In addition, it has decided to expand its previously-reported donations (R$100,000 to families with dead or missing members) to include those that live in or carried out activities in the “self-saving zone” of its Emergency Action Plan for Mining Dams (PAEBM). In an emergency, Vale is responsible for warning the population in this zone. Residents will receive R$50,000 per property. Those who carried out rural or commercial activities registered by the company when its PAEBM was created, will receive R$15,000. This amount will be donated to each merchant, and per household family of farmers.

Vale says that two sediment barriers are now operating in the Paraopeba River. A third was set to be installed on 4 February but it is unclear whether this has happened. The barriers have been placed as a preventative measure to protect the water supply of Para de Minas, a city located 40 km from Brumadinho.

In addition to halted operations previously reported, Vale says it is suspending operations at the Vargem Grande Complex, an iron ore mine, to help further accelerate the decommissioning of its upstream tailings dams.

The 22nd Civil Court of the Comarca of Belo Horizonte has decided that among other measures Vale must refrain from disposing of tailings or practising any activities that could potentially increase the risks posed by the following dams: Laranjeiras, Menezes II, Capitão do Mato, Dique B, Taquaras, Forquilha I, Forquilha II and Forquilha III.

Vale has released the names of the members of the previously reported Extraordinary Independent Consulting Committees (CIAE),  one of which is for investigation, and the other for support and recovery. The CIAE for Support and Recovery is up and running and is monitoring the measures aimed at supporting the victims and recovery of the affected area to ensure the correct allocation of required resources.

Vale has mobilised 400 people to assist those affected by the breach. Help Centres continue to support the community in Brumadinho, which includes supply of medicines and water.

98 rescued animals are also being treated at Vale’s 24/7 Field Hospital.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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