On January 25, 2019 a dam with more than 12 billion cubic meters of mineral debris has broken and another two were affected, all with tailings of the activity of iron mining, immediately reaching the Municipality of Brumadinho and then the Parque da Cachoeira reserve, in the State of Minas Gerais. According to the latest official data, 60 persons died, 760 households (3,800 persons) were directly affected and there are still hundreds of missing people. According to the authorities many of the missing are likely buried deep in mud. The risk of the Dam B6 which has 3-4 million cubic meters of water to collapse, led authorities to evacuated 5400 households (27,000 persons) from Brumadinho.
The impact on the soil of the ore tailings, the extent of the disaster along the rivers of the region and the contamination of the phreatic surface cannot yet be evaluated. There is an immediate impact on access to water for human consumption since the water distribution systems are affected and water is not safe for consumption for households that have not been evacuated. There are 760 families in a situation of helplessness with loss of relatives/friends and conditions to re-establish themselves in a psychosocially balanced way, in a process of care seeking to re-establish themselves. The effects of the mud torrent damaged 250 houses and destroyed 25.
A local commission was created with local and national authorities to offer more effective assistance, nevertheless the affected people were not included, avoiding their full participation and ownership, contrasting with the localisation principle. Brumadinho is only 62km from Belo Horizonte the capital of Minas Gerais and one of the main Brazilian cities. There is an alert on the high risk of the tailing reaching two important rivers: Paraopebas river and the São Francisco river.
ACT Alliance members in Brazil are monitoring the development of the situation and KOINONIA, a FEACT Brazil’s member with others local partners are planning to provide Psychosocial support and Food security. Other ACT Alliance local members will engage on the external dissemination and advocacy activities related to the disaster.