Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New evacuations ordered at site of Brazil mine disaster

New evacuations were ordered Wednesday at the scene of Brazil's deadly iron ore mine dam burst as the CEOs of the mining giants that own the operation made a joint visit.

The executives' visit to the Samarco mine in southeastern Brazil followed mounting pressure for answers to the November 5 disaster, which left at least six dead and 21 missing after mud mixed with mining waste poured from two tailings pond dams at the facility.

"Our priority now is to understand the extent of the consequences of the dams' rupture and what we can do more to help," said Andrew Mackenzie, CEO of Australia-based BHP Billiton, the world's biggest mining company, and Murilo Ferreira, CEO of Brazil's Vale, in a statement released in Portuguese.

Fears for the safety of a third dam prompted new evacuations while emergency services made repairs Wednesday. Some 631 people had already been forced from their homes in the accident.

"Families are being relocated so that they are in greater security," a spokesman for the Minas Gerais state government told AFP.

The repairs will "bring a greater measure of stability, mitigating the effects due to the (earlier) breaking and preventing possible future problems," Samarco said in a statement.

Brazil's civil defense authorities called a state of emergency in the Mariana area on Wednesday, opening access to greater federal aid.

On Tuesday, authorities had ordered Samarco to step up its own measures. The joint venture is required to collect and preserve evidence related to the dam failures, making it easier for victims to be compensated.

The company will face a daily fine of about $13,000 if it fails to comply.

Most of the village of Bento Rodrigues in the state of Minas Gerais was flattened by the wall of mud.

Fears were mounting that the sludge, which flowed into local rivers, could be toxic and contaminate the water supplies of more than half a million people in Minas Gerais and the neighboring state of Espirito Santo.

Residents complained that the local water has a strong chemical smell, and posted photos on social media of ruined plantations and dead wildlife, including fish and turtles smothered in mud.

In Espirito Santo, a judge ordered state officials to test the Doce river water for contamination...

 AFP
dailystar.com.lb
11/11/15
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