Hey there! If you stopped to read this, wow, you're awesome! And since you're that awesome, maybe you'd be willing to check out this super sweet, not-so-top-secret campaign to take Films For Action to the next level of awesome in our quest to change the world. All the details here. Cheers!
Ruptured Dams Engulf Brazilian Village in Toxic Mine Waste
More than a dozen are feared dead, with scores missing, after a tailings owned by some of the biggest mining companies in the world burst
By Sarah Lazare / commondreams.org
Nov 16, 2015
The Bento Rodrigues district is pictured covered with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst in Mariana, Brazil, November 6, 2015. (Photo: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

The Bento Rodrigues district is pictured covered with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst in Mariana, Brazil, November 6, 2015. (Photo: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

At least two dams ruptured at a Brazilian open-pit mine on Thursday, sending a torrent of toxic sludge and wastewater pouring into a nearby village—submerging vehicles, sweeping away homes, and leaving over a dozen people feared dead.

Located in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, the mine is run by Samarco, a joint project between the Australian company BHP Billiton—the world's biggest mining company—and the Brazilian company Vale—the largest iron ore producer. The structures that failed were tailings dams, which hold toxic chemicals and other waste from the mining process.

The structural failure sent the waste pouring into the small town of Bento Rodrigues, located four miles downhill from the mine. Video footage shows homes and buildings ripped apart and submerged in mud, trees leveled, and a truck dangling upside down from a cliff-side.

"When I went outside there were already people running uphill saying the dam burst," resident Joaquim Teofilo Dutra told the Associated Press. "All I did was close my house and run to the top."

As of Friday, the exact number of confirmed dead was unknown. A spokesperson for firefighters assisting with rescue efforts confirmed that at least two people were killed and 30 wounded. "In reality there are a lot more, but we can't confirm any more than that," firefighter Adão Severino Junior in the city of Mariana told Reuters. "We don't even know that we'll find everybody."

According to some reports, up to 100 people are unaccounted for.

Hundreds of survivors took shelter in a gymnasium near Mariana or at area hotels, as rescue efforts continued into Friday.

Meanwhile, some have raised concerns that the the toxic sludge could contaminate the Gualaxo do Norte river that provides water to Belo Horizonte, a city of 2.5 million people.

This is not the first massive and deadly dam rupture. A separate dam in northeastern Brazil burst in 2009, killing at least 24 people.

Indigenous, poor, and working class communities across Brazil have raised repeated alarm about the harmful impact of large dams and mining projects on human and environmental health.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

4.0 ·
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Living the Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future (2018)
85 min Living the Change explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to live in a sustainable and regenerative...
Stare Into The Lights My Pretties (2017)
129 min We live in a world of screens. The average adult spends the majority of their waking hours in front of some sort of screen or device. We're enthralled, we're addicted to these machines. How did we get here? Who benefits? What are the cumulative impacts on people, society and...
Trending Today

Love Films For Action? Become a Patron.

Our Patreon campaign is now live. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. Would you be willing to make a monthly pledge? A few dollars per month times the power of a few thousand awesome people will get us to where we need to be. Click here to join.

If you'd prefer to make a one-time donation, you can do that here. Many thanks!

Join us on Facebook
Ruptured Dams Engulf Brazilian Village in Toxic Mine Waste