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29 Apr 2022

Deutsche Welle

Brazil: 1 million people live near a dangerous dam, according to Deutsche Welle; 50% of the large-scale accidents recorded were connected to mining

"Brazil dams: 1 million live close to danger", 29 April 2022

...Around 1 million people in Brazil live near a dangerous dam, according to a DW analysis. The situation raises alarm bells about the possible consequences of yet another accident in the country, which has seen three large-scale dam disasters since 2009. 

The finding includes all those living in populated areas no more than a kilometer away from one of the 1220 dams that combine "high risk" and "high potential damage" classifications in Brazil's National Dam Safety Information System (SNISB). 

A high-risk classification means that a dam has structural damage, design flaws or is not properly maintained, putting it at greater risk of organizational mishaps and safety incidents that could lead to a rupture. A high potential damage classification, in turn, means that such a failure would have major environmental, human or economic costs. 

The issue is being exacerbated by flawed governance. Despite legal requirements, many dams don't have safety and emergency plans that outline what should be done in the event of a disaster...

Although tailing dams are significantly fewer in number, they are responsible for a disproportionate number of tragedies.  

Out of the 18 large-scale dam accidents recorded in Brazil between 1986 and 2019, nine were connected to mining operations...

According to Baldi, mining companies are responsible for the lack of proper care, as they seek to increase extraction levels while reducing costs. Blame also lies with institutions meant to monitor mining activities, she adds...