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Deep into the mud : ecological and socio-economic impacts of the dam breach in Mariana, Brazil

Fernandes, Geraldo Wilson ; Goulart, Fernando F. ; Ranieri, Bernardo D. ; Coelho, Marcel S. ; Dales, Kirsten ; Boesche, Nina ; Bustamante, Mercedes ; Carvalho, Felipe A. ; Carvalho, Daniel C. and Dirzo, Rodolfo , et al. (2016) In Natureza e Conservacao 14(2). p.35-45
Abstract

We review the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the catastrophic dam failure in Mariana, Brazil. Tailing management practices by Samarco mining company ultimately caused a dam breach that abruptly discharged between 55 and 62 million m3 of tailings into the Doce River watershed. On November 5th, 2015, a tsunami of slurry engulfed the small district of Bento Rodrigues, loading the Doce River and its estuary with toxic tailings along a 663.2 km trajectory, extending impacts to the Atlantic coast. Acute ecological impacts will adversely affect livelihoods of more than 1 million people in 41 riparian municipalities by reducing local access to fisheries resources, clean water, crop production sites, hydroelectric power... (More)

We review the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the catastrophic dam failure in Mariana, Brazil. Tailing management practices by Samarco mining company ultimately caused a dam breach that abruptly discharged between 55 and 62 million m3 of tailings into the Doce River watershed. On November 5th, 2015, a tsunami of slurry engulfed the small district of Bento Rodrigues, loading the Doce River and its estuary with toxic tailings along a 663.2 km trajectory, extending impacts to the Atlantic coast. Acute ecological impacts will adversely affect livelihoods of more than 1 million people in 41 riparian municipalities by reducing local access to fisheries resources, clean water, crop production sites, hydroelectric power generation and raw materials. The threats to riverine human communities are particularly critical for the disadvantaged populations from remote areas that rely on subsistence agriculture and fisheries, and are uniquely vulnerable to long-term heavy metal exposure. At the landscape scale, we predict multiple negative impacts, ranging from alterations of the genetic diversity of fish populations to long-term vegetation loss and poor regeneration in contaminated areas. Consequently, compromised soil stability and runoff control will increase the risk of further geomorphologic disturbance, including landslides, bank failure and mass movements. We propose spatially explicit long-term monitoring frameworks and priority mitigation measures to cope with acute and chronic risks. We posit that, from a national perspective, disastrous impacts like that of Doce River may become more frequent, given the recent regulatory changes that undermine both institutional governance structures and enforcement of environmental regulation.

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publication status
published
keywords
Ecosystem services, Environmental contamination, Environmental legislation, Heavy metals, Mining, Restoration, Water resources
in
Natureza e Conservacao
volume
14
issue
2
pages
11 pages
publisher
Fundacao O Boticario de Protecao a Naturezas
external identifiers
  • scopus:85006142664
ISSN
1679-0073
DOI
10.1016/j.ncon.2016.10.003
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
1d1aed43-1f09-4864-8a72-f51c9245f76c
date added to LUP
2019-06-12 12:14:09
date last changed
2019-12-01 05:54:07
@article{1d1aed43-1f09-4864-8a72-f51c9245f76c,
  abstract     = {<p>We review the ecological and socio-economic impacts of the catastrophic dam failure in Mariana, Brazil. Tailing management practices by Samarco mining company ultimately caused a dam breach that abruptly discharged between 55 and 62 million m<sup>3</sup> of tailings into the Doce River watershed. On November 5th, 2015, a tsunami of slurry engulfed the small district of Bento Rodrigues, loading the Doce River and its estuary with toxic tailings along a 663.2 km trajectory, extending impacts to the Atlantic coast. Acute ecological impacts will adversely affect livelihoods of more than 1 million people in 41 riparian municipalities by reducing local access to fisheries resources, clean water, crop production sites, hydroelectric power generation and raw materials. The threats to riverine human communities are particularly critical for the disadvantaged populations from remote areas that rely on subsistence agriculture and fisheries, and are uniquely vulnerable to long-term heavy metal exposure. At the landscape scale, we predict multiple negative impacts, ranging from alterations of the genetic diversity of fish populations to long-term vegetation loss and poor regeneration in contaminated areas. Consequently, compromised soil stability and runoff control will increase the risk of further geomorphologic disturbance, including landslides, bank failure and mass movements. We propose spatially explicit long-term monitoring frameworks and priority mitigation measures to cope with acute and chronic risks. We posit that, from a national perspective, disastrous impacts like that of Doce River may become more frequent, given the recent regulatory changes that undermine both institutional governance structures and enforcement of environmental regulation.</p>},
  author       = {Fernandes, Geraldo Wilson and Goulart, Fernando F. and Ranieri, Bernardo D. and Coelho, Marcel S. and Dales, Kirsten and Boesche, Nina and Bustamante, Mercedes and Carvalho, Felipe A. and Carvalho, Daniel C. and Dirzo, Rodolfo and Fernandes, Stephannie and Galetti, Pedro M. and Millan, Virginia E.Garcia and Mielke, Christian and Ramirez, Jorge L. and Neves, Ana and Rogass, Christian and Ribeiro, Sérvio P. and Scariot, Aldicir and Soares-Filho, Britaldo},
  issn         = {1679-0073},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {35--45},
  publisher    = {Fundacao O Boticario de Protecao a Naturezas},
  series       = {Natureza e Conservacao},
  title        = {Deep into the mud : ecological and socio-economic impacts of the dam breach in Mariana, Brazil},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ncon.2016.10.003},
  doi          = {10.1016/j.ncon.2016.10.003},
  volume       = {14},
  year         = {2016},
}