We all recall the events in Fukushima from 2011, when a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant occurred after a category 9 earthquake triggered a tsunami, which in turn destroyed three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors. Now, over five years removed from the catastrophic event, we are still actively facing the consequences it unleashed on the planet.
On November 5th of this year, another disaster struck the world. It is being referred to by many as the #BrazilianFukushima. The tragedy was instigated at a mining facility in the village of Bento Rodrigues in Brazil, where two dams that were used to hold waste water from iron ore burst, causing rivers of mud to descend upon and destroy a number of nearby villages.
In a recent update, the waste was said to have extended over 440 kilometres downstream by this point, contaminating, destroying, and even killing in the process. 11 people have been pronounced dead, while another 12 are missing but presumed dead. Over 500 people have also lost their homes.
While the death toll figures may not be staggering, the damage inflicted on the communities affected is shocking, as evidenced in the following video coverage:
The mining facility belonged to the company Samarco, which is owned by the global mining giants Vale, from Brazil, and BHP Billiton, an Anglo-American organization. Since the tragedy, Samarco has now agreed to pay at least 1 billion reais ($260 million USD) in compensation for their negligence.
Authorities addressing the situation have publicly recognized that this amount just scratches the surface of the devastation experienced by the local population and the global environment.
Ibama, a Brazilian Environmental Agency, described the incident as “the worst mining accident in Brazil’s history” — a bold statement considered that mining is the country’s third largest industry.
While Samarco has publicly responded by helping to provide alternative shelter, food, and emergency supplies to those affected by the disaster, many are not satisfied with their efforts. A number of protestors have made their voices heard outside of Vale’s head office in Rio de Janeiro by spreading mud on the company’s building.
The tailings from the disaster are believed to be a mix of water and iron, along with a number of waste materials such as silica, which Vale recognizes will take at least several years to be recovered from.
With the number of global disasters such as this continuing to rise, the cumulative damage on our planet, combined with that created by our archaic processes and the demands of our consumption, is getting scary. I personally believe that now more than ever is the time for us all to demand a more comprehensive look at alternative solutions.
We may feel powerless in our ability to impact the global landscape, but the truth is that all change starts with just one person. Spread awareness of tragedies such as this so that the reality becomes that much more tangible for everyone within your network. The more they see, the more likely they are to recognize the importance of making changes within their own lives.
Unsure of what to do? Start by checking out this following list of 5 Ways You Can Actually Change The World Instead Of Just Talking About It.
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