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Mariana Mining Disaster One Year Later

The Mariana Mining disaster, considered the largest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history, left unforgettable memories of devastated landscape and lives. It separated families in Mariana.

As Deutsche Welle describes: “Among the few homes left – almost all without doors and windows – a bush is trying to grow on on of the mountains of debris left throughout the village of Bento Rodrigues.”


The rural town located in Brazil’s state of Minas Gerais, located in the country’s southeast, still has the color brown mud throughout much of it when, on November 5, 2015, the mines Fundão dam (Samarco mining company) collapsed. 19 people were killed.

“Over the past weeks, the movement of workers and heavy machinery at the site has became more intense,” Deutsche Welle writes. “Construction work on a new dam, called S4, are in a race against time.”

The structure is planned to be opened in January, at the height of the rainy season.

“The lake will be created in the area already impacted,” said Eduardo Moreira, manager of the Samarco works.

“From a technical point of view, it is an important alternative within the waste containment system,” he said in reference to other measures.

As Deutsche Welle describes: “The ruins of a chapel, built in 1718, will be saved – but will keep a mark from the tragedy. 70-year-old José do Nascimento de Jesus, a Bento Rodrigues community leader, said he will not go back there to give his service.”

Rodrigues said: “We go there and see only mud.”  The devastation displaced many.

“Where we used to live, everything will be flooded,” said Irene de Jesus. “Now people are hoping, expecting to move soon to the new Bento, to have our home. And, who knows, to be happy as before.”


About 3,000 laborers in shifts work around the clock, “rebuilding infrastructure and the barriers between the poisonous debris and the Gualaxo River, which flows into the Doce.”

the Brazilian environmental institute Ibama surmises the efforts will fail to prevent Brazil’s largest environmental disaster.

On the streets in Mariana’s downtown, merchants and taxi drivers complain about the lack of customers and complain about the difficult financial situation. The local government is struggling to balance its books since it stopped collecting taxes when the mining company stopped operating. It was among the main source of revenue for the city.


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