Rio Doce River


Is the waste from the dams toxic?

No. The waste at the dam sites is inert, it has no toxic components. It is mainly composed of silica (sand) from the iron ore processing and contains no chemicals that pose a risk to health. The results of the analyzes requested by Samarco to SGSGeosol Laboratórios, specialized in environmental and geochemical analyzes of soil, attests that the waste from the Fundão dam offers no harm to people or the environment. Samples were collected on November 8th near Bento Rodrigues, Monsenhor Horta, Pedras, Barretos and Barra Longa, in the state of Minas Gerais, and were analyzed according to the Brazilian standard NBR 10004:2004. These sites have been identified for collection for being the closest to the accident, and therefore the samples represent the best material deposited in the dam. After the analyzes, the waste at these sites has been classified as non-hazardous. This means that the analyzed material presents no harm to people and the environment, considering that it provides no contaminants to water, even in rain exposure conditions.

Is the recovery of the Doce River possible?

Yes. The mud from the disruption of the dam has settled mainly in the riverbed of Rio Doce, after passing through Rio Carmo, one of the rivers that form Rio Doce. The other affluents, such as rivers Piranga, Casca, Matipó, Piracicaba, Santo Antônio, Corrente, Caratinga, Suaçuí Pequeno, Suaçuí Grande, Manhuaçu and Guandu, have remained untouched and will be responsible for renovating the water and life of Rio Doce. In an article published on November 18th, on Colabora website, the journalist Agostinho Vieira claims that, contrary to what has been circulating on social networks, the Doce River is not dead and can be recuperated. The text cites some factors that have been causing siltation in the Doce River for years, such as lack of sanitation and deforestation in the region, especially of riparian forests. The report concludes, giving as an example the recuperation of the River Thames in London, which had being considered biologically dead and is now clean. Several federal and state institutions of Espírito Santo have recently formed a governance group to jointly address issues related to the Doce River basin and report on their activities to society. The fist content which is posted brings relevant information about how it is possible to make the Doce River waters potable by treating it with natural flocculants. To learn about this, access

Will the plume reach the coast of Bahia?

No. According to the Inema (Institute for the Environment and Water Resources), the wave of mineral waste has virtually no chance of reaching the coast of Bahia. In a statement published on Wednesday, 25th, on the Institute’s website, the monitoring coordinator of Inema, Eduardo Topásio, denied the rumors circulating through social networks, that the mineral waste has reached the coast of Bahia. The distance between the estuary (aquatic environment where the river and the sea meet the Doce River) and these other places is huge. It would take a long time to get here, taking into account the dynamics of the sea. The trend of the river current, this time of the year, is going south, and Bahia is to the north of the mouth of the Doce River“ he said through a statement. According to the expert, there is an extremely remote possibility of the mud reaching the southern coast of Bahia, particularly the beaches of Itacaré, Alcobaça and Abrolhos. "All the climatic conditions of the region and the displacement of mud have to be considered. During rainfall, it is natural for brown spots to appear in the sea, which can confuse people into thinking that it is the ore tailings" finished Topásio.

What is being done to preserve the Doce River?

Samarco reported that, according to analyzes carried out on Sunday, November 22th, the efficiency of the contention barriers, which have been installed in protected areas, at Regencia, Linhares (Espírito Santo), reached 80% compared to the water turbidity inside the estuary to the main river channel. To assist, Samarco hired Golder Associates, a company specializing in disasters of this magnitude, which will be dedicated to the preparation of plans, to the management and to the supervision of the actions that are being implemented in all areas impacted along the Doce River. Samarco is also considering partnerships with other environmental institutions such as the Earth Institute, belonging to the photographer Sebastião Salgado, which has directed operations for the environmental rehabilitation of water sources along the river.

What are Vale's plans for the reconstruction of the affected area?

Vale and BHP Billiton announced on November 27th plans to work together, with Samarco, to establish a voluntary, non-profit fund to support the rescue and recuperation of the Rio Doce river system, affected by the accident. The fund would initially be sponsored by Vale and BHP. The aim is to seek additional financial support from other private, public and NGOs. The initial value is still being defined. The objective, however, is that these resources would support the rescue and recuperation effort of the river system for the longer term. Additionally, Vale supports the 1 billion real emergency fund announced by Samarco, Brazilian federal and Minas Gerais state prosecutors. The Preliminary Commitment will guarantee funding for a range of emergency measures including prevention, mitigation, remediation and compensation for environmental and social effects of the incident at Samarco’s Fundão dam on November 5th. In Espírito Santo, Samarco also signed a Commitment with the Brazilian federal and Espirito Santo state prosecutors and the Ministry of Work, to cover measures in the municipalities of Baixo Guandu, Colatina, Linhares and Marilândia to prevent and mitigate socio-environmental impacts resulting from the accident. The measures include, ensuring a supply of water to the affected areas and the immediate rescue of flora and fauna in the area.

Is there a risk of flooding in the cities situated on the banks of the Doce River?

Following the release of a report on Saturday, November 14th by the CPRM (Mineral Resources Research Company) of the Brazilian Geological Service, Samarco announced that the turbidity plume will not cause flooding in the municipalities in the state of Espírito Santo situated on the banks of the Doce River. The entity is monitoring the riverbed 24/7, in real time, to track the progress of the plume, which was passing slowly by the city of Resplendor (MG) on Saturday. Read more about it on the Samarco website.