São Paulo, Paulista Avenue, 2016.
Partnership with Gráfica Fidalga.
Photographed by Isabel Roth.
On November 5, 2015 in the city of Mariana, Minas Gerais, a tailings dam burst, unleashing 50 million tons of iron ore and toxic mud in Doce River. The sub district of Bento Rodrigues, located 10 km away from the ruptured dam, was completely devastated by the mining waste. Nineteen people died. There was no contingency plan, neither official warnings (sirens) about the burst. The sludge traveled more than 600 km before spilling into Atlantic Ocean, causing widespread devastation in the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo. Once it arrived the sea, the toxic waste spread for several kilometers along the coast, impacting sea life and contaminating the water.
The Samarco dam burst became the worst environmental disaster in Brazil's history.
On October 20, the Federal Public Ministry accused 21 people for homicide with eventual intent, serious personal injury and environmental crime, among other charges. All the accused are linked to Samarco, a joint venture between Vale and BHP Billition. The companies denied the accusations, as well as any previously knowledge about the risks of a dam burst.