Inside the Vale of Mud

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INSIDE THE VALE OF MUD A report on the tailings dam collapse in Brazil


Justiça Global would like to thank the cooperation of the following movements and organizations Articulação Internacional dos Atingidos e Atingidas pela Vale Brigadas Populares Coletivo Margarida Alves Comitê Nacional em Defesa dos Territórios frente à Mineração Conselho Nacional de Direitos Humanos Grupo Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade – PoEMAS Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens – MAB Movimento Nacional pela Soberania Popular frente à Mineração - MAM and to the people of Mariana.

Translation: Fabrina Furtado


No, Bento is gone. Bento was a place that existed and that no longer exists. It has become a ghost town. There is nothing else there besides around six houses. But it’s over. It was a catastrophe. It’s was a tsunami, an earthquake. A Camargos resident, Interview on Nov. 14, 2105


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1. Introduction This report is the result of two field visits to Mariana region. The first visit took place shortly after the disaster, between November 13Th and 15Th . The second visit was carried out between December 11th and 15th, a few days after the disaster completed a month. This field trip was has held in the context of a country visit undertaken by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights. This international mechanism has visited Brazil and included in their agenda meetings with the population affected by the disaster, including residents of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, as well as local movements and civil society organizations. Although the breaking of the tailings dam has caused many human rights violations in the cities affected by mud flood, it is important to note that mining has long been the cause of several social and environmental damages throughout the Mariana region. As a result, the International Articulation of Those Affected by Vale chose the city as one of the points of its South caravan, which took place in August 2015. Since the breakup of the Fund達o tailings dam, the situation of human rights violations in Mariana region, in the state of Minas Gerais, has worsened. Among the rights violated as a result of the disaster and the lack of effective response from the state and the companies involved are: the right to life, water, housing, work, health and the right to live in a healthy environment (life and physical integrity, adequate housing, information and effective legal recourse). In addition, this report describes situations of hostility and criminalization of human rights defenders and social movements. At risk is the human dignity of 3,2 million people, which is the estimated number of the population that lives along the Rio Doce and as such, most affected by the social and environmental disaster.


2. Valley of Waste: the social and environmental disaster in Mariana On November 5, 2015, the Fundão mining tailings dam, operated by the mining company Samarco, burst in the city of Mariana, in the state of Minas Gerais (MG), leading to the worst ever mining related environmental disaster Brazil. Within minutes, thousands of tons of toxic mud and mining residue reached and completely destroyed the district of Bento Rodrigues. In hours the tide of sludge spread, burying houses in the district of Paracatu de Baixo. The toxic mud also hit other rural districts of Mariana. On the next day, November 6, the mudflow reached the neighboring municipality of Barra Longa, also destroying plantations and affecting the central area of the city. Although the mud only reached Barra Longa fourteen hours after the collapse of the dam, the city´s population was also not communicated in a timely manner to be able to save objects and goods from their homes. The mud destroyed houses, churches, schools, corrals, bridges, plantations and livestocks. The mudflow intensively worked its way down, reaching the Rio Doce (Sweet River) and all of the municipalities located along it, between the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo (ES). In an interview on November 19, Luciano Magalhães, director of the Water and Sewage Autonomous Service (SAAE, acronym in Portuguese) of the city of Baixo Guandu in Espírito Santo, stated that the water of Rio Doce “no longer has any use, being unfit for irrigation and animal and human consumption”1. It is important to note that, 3.2 million people live in the Rio Doce basin. The Mariana mining complex is located in a region called Alto Rio Doce, composed of the most important springs that give rise to the river. The mud affected several streams and waterways that make up the Gualaxo do Norte and Do Carmo rivers, reaching and completely ravaging these two important tributaries of Rio Doce. The geographical dimension of the tragedy is fundamental to understand the scope of the mudflow: the dam burst in the Alto Rio Doce region, about 1,200 meters above sea level. Favored by the natural relief of the terrain, the mud then worked its way downstream, flowing with greater force through the rivers and destroying the aquatic life of Rio Doce, one of the most important watersheds in the country. To date, approximately 9 million tones of fish have been found dead at the bank of river2. É preciso destacar que a contaminação afetou a nascente do Rio Doce.

1 Available at: <http://revistagalileu.globo.com/Ciencia/Meio-Ambiente/noticia/2015/11/e-oficial-o-rio-doce-esta-completamente-morto.html>. Access on: 25 nov. 2015. 2 Available at: <http://noticias.uol.com.br/cotidiano/ultimas-noticias/2015/11/26/ibama-registra-9-toneladas-de-peixes-mortos-nas-margens-do-rio-doce.htm>. Access on: 04 dez. 2015.

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4 On November 22, the mud reached the coast of Espírito Santo, at Regency beach in the city of Linhares, Rio Doce´s mouth. The mud is currently advancing to the city’s beaches, heading mainly to the north of the state3. The damages to the marine life of this large ecosystem, as well as to the lives of the people that depend on the rivers for survival, are still incalculable. To date, seventeen people have died, two are still missing4 and 350 families have been left homeless5, and these numbers are still not definitive. The search for casualties continues. So far, Justiça Global has been monitoring the impacts suffered in the following rural communities: Bento Rodrigues, Paracatu de Baixo, Paracatu de Cima, Gesteira, Campinas, Pedras, Camargos e Ponte do Gama. Other sources have also reported impacts in Borba and Bicas .

Paracatu de Baixo 3 Available at: <http://g1.globo.com/espirito-santo/noticia/2015/11/lama-de-barragem-da-samarco-chega-ao-mar-no-es. html>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015. 4 Available at: <http://g1.globo.com/minas-gerais/noticia/2015/11/veja-lista-de-desaparecidos-no-rompimento-de-barragens.html>. Access on: 08 jan. 2015. 5 Available at: <http://www.em.com.br/app/noticia/gerais/2015/12/07/interna_gerais,714780/atingidos-por-lama-da-samarco-viram-prisionerios-da-tragedia.shtml>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015.


3. A characterization of Samarco

3.1. Samarco’s composition

Founded in 1977, Samarco is a joint venture, equally owned by two shareholders: the AngloAustralian BHP Billiton and Brazil’s Vale S.A. Its main product is iron ore pellets, produced from the processing of low-grade minerals into a high value-added product, marketed to the global steel industry. It is essentially an exporting company, having held the 10th position in terms of exports in 20146. Samarco Mineração S.A. directly employs approximately 3 thousand workers and 3,5 thousands outsourced workers. The company operates an integrated system in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo comprised of two mines, three processing plants, three pipelines, four pellet plants and a port. Samarco also has 25% stake in two pelletizing companies in China7. Samarco is one of Brazil’s leading companies in the implementation of policies related to corporate social responsibility. The company was the first mining company in the world to have an ISO 14001 certification for environmental management in all stages of production8,as well as having made other commitments in regards to corporate social responsibility, such as the UN Global Compact9. 3.2. Samarco’s operations in the region The Samarco mining complex is structured as follows: extraction (mining), transportation (pipelines), residue (tailings dams and waste dumps), concentration (pellet plants) and exports (port). Iron ore pellets produced by Samarco are exported to markets in the Americas, Middle East, Asia and Europe; a total of 19 countries. Since the launching of the Fourth Pellet Plant in the first half of 2014, the company´s production capacity increased by 37%, reaching a level of 30.5 million tons per year, which consequently increased considerably the amount of waste deposited in the dams, built specifically for this end10. In other words, Samarco was in the process of expanding its activities, when the disaster occurred.

6 Available at: <http://www.samarco.com/index.php/institucional/a-empresa/>. Access on: 30 nov. 2015. 7 Samarco. Relatório Anual de Sustentabilidade 2014. Available at: <http://www.samarco.com/wp-content/ uploads/2015/11/Relatorio-Anual-de-Sustentabilidade-2014.pdf>. Access on: 04 dez 2015. 8 Available at: <http://www.istoedinheiro.com.br/blogs-e-colunas/post/20151109/caso-samarco-desmoronamento-responsabilidade-social-corporativa/7737>. Access on: 04 dez. 2015; 9 Samarco. Relatório Anual de Sustentabilidade 2014. Available at: <http://www.samarco.com/wp-content/ uploads/2015/11/Relatorio-Anual-de-Sustentabilidade-2014.pdf>. Access on: 04 dez 2015. 10 Ibidem.

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Samarco has three concentration plants at its Germano unit in Minas Gerais, which processes ore and increases its iron content. The company also has four pellet plants (which transform the ore into pellets) at the Ubu unit in the municipality of Anchieta in Espírito Santo. These two industrial units are connected by three pipelines, with nearly 400 kilometers of extension each, which transport the iron ore slurry between the two states, along 25 municipalities11. In addition to industrial operations, Samarco also has a hydroelectric plant in Muniz Freire (ES), and participates in the consortium of the Guilman-Amorim hydroelectric power plant, in Antonio Dias and Nova Era (MG)12. The company also has its own maritime terminal, located in Ubu (ES), from where production is shipped, as well as national sales offices in Belo Horizonte (MG) and Vitória (ES), and two international offices in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Hong Kong (China)13. The Mariana Complex consists of three mines and four major processing plants that belong to Vale; and two mines, three processing plants, three pipelines, four pellet plants, as well as Samarco´s Port14. The whole process of extraction and initial processing generates two types of residues: waste dumps (dry waste) and tailings dams (wet waste). Some of the mines in the complex have their own dams, as is the case of Vale´s Alegria mine, but all of the mines in this area and from the Samarco plant, direct part or all of their wet waste to the complex´ three large dams: Germano, Santarém and Fundão. These dams have been classified as Class III (high potential for environmental damage) by the state environmental agency - Fundação Estadual do Meio Ambiente)15. This data reveals Vale´s participation in the amount of waste deposited in the dams, not only as a shareholder of Samarco, along with BHP Billiton, but also as an autonomous company.

11 Available at: <http://www.samarco.com/index.php/institucional/a-empresa>. Access on: 04 dez. 2015 12 Ibidem 13 Samarco. Relatório Anual de Sustentabilidade 2014. Available at: <http://www.samarco.com/wp-content/ uploads/2015/11/Relatorio-Anual-de-Sustentabilidade-2014.pdf>. Access on: 04 dez 2015 . 14 Vale. Relatório Anual 2014. Available at: <http://www.vale.com/PT/investors/information-market/annual-reports/20f/ 20FDocs/Vale%2020-F%202014_p_novo.pdf>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015 15 Information available in the Report: Antes fosse mais leve a carga: uma avaliação dos aspectos econômicos e sociais do desastre da Vale/BHP/Samarco em Mariana (MG), elaborated by Grupo Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade – PoEMAS. Available at: < http://www.ufjf.br/poemas/files/2014/07/PoEMAS-2015-Antes-fosse-mais-leve-a-carga-versão-final.pdf>. Access on: 06 dez. 2015


Germano Tailings Dam

An important issue to observe in this process, is the consumption of water: for the initial processing phase, water is used to wash the ore producing wet waste which is then deposited in the tailings dam. Dams are always built in the beds of rivers and streams, thus irreversibly destroying these waterways. In the case of the Samarco complex, three pipelines carry the pulp of iron to the pellet plants in Anchieta, EspĂ­rito Santo. The conductive medium of this pulp is water, and pipelines operate 24 hours a day meaning high levels of water consumption. The three pipelines together consume a total of 105.6 million liters daily16. For purposes of comparison, this amount exceeds the daily water consumption of a city like Contagem (MG), with a population of almost 650,000 inhabitants. In 2009, Samarco commissioned a 24 hours monitoring plan of its dams, as well as a system for use in emergencies. However, the measures envisaged were not implemented due to the economic crisis. The contingency plan, which suppressed the monitoring of the dams and the emergency warning system, at odds with the environmental legislation, was presented to and approved by the supervisory 16 Ibidem.


authorities17. Samarco had no audible alarm systems, which is required by law, and lacked the qualified personnel to assist the population in cases of emergency18. In addition, the Samarco Emergency Action Plan (EAP) also contemplated emergency simulations with the population located downstream of the dam, which were not carried out19. The company transferred to the Government its obligation to warn and remove the surrounding population in the event of an emergency20. Samarco uses the “Early Warning System” concept of the United States Bureau of Reclamation. Samarco´s Emergency Action Plan (EAP) should include prevention related actions, such as simulations with communities in the event of an emergency, and related social communication work. However, in the 2014 report, the company’s contingency plan stated that: “In the current version of the EAP, simulation exercises outside the scope of Samarco will not be carried out ie, the effective participation of the population in communities located downstream of dams will not take place”. This decision demonstrates that Samarco´s advertising of the “Early Warning System” in its EAP does not match the actual practice of the company. In this same report the company presented the scope of the region that would be considered in EAP. Strangely, the company only includes the district of Bento Rodrigues, excluding all the other neighboring rural districts, which were also seriously impacted by the collapse of the dam. The other districts and municipalities downstream of Bento Rodrigues were also not considered. In the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the Fundão dam, elaborated in the context of the the environmental licensing process, only the town of Bento Rodrigues - described as “the only neighboring community relatively close to the enterprise and therefore more susceptible to possible impacts due to changes in the quality of the water as a result of the Project´s operations, or the labour supply for the construction phase”21 – and the municipalities of Ouro Preto and Mariana are 17 Available at: <http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2015/11/1710705-mineradora-engavetou-plano-para -alertar-vizinho-de-barragem-em-mg.shtml>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015. 18 Information available in the Report: Antes fosse mais leve a carga: uma avaliação dos aspectos econômicos e sociais do desastre da Vale/BHP/Samarco em Mariana (MG), elaborated by Grupo Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade – PoEMAS. Available at: < http://www.ufjf.br/poemas/files/2014/07/PoEMAS-2015-Antes-fosse-mais-leve-a-carga-versão-final.pdf>. Access on: 06 dez. 2015 19 Document signed by civil society organizations and social movements and sent to the National Human Rights Council, on November 16, 2015. 20 Available at: <http://www.em.com.br/app/noticia/gerais/2015/11/24/interna_gerais,710870/samarco-contratou-plano-de-emergencia-para-desastre-mas-nunca-pos-em.shtml>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015. 21 Citation taken from the Environmental Impact Study of the Fundão Tailings Dam (Brandt, 2005) from the Report: Antes fosse mais leve a carga: uma avaliação dos aspectos econômicos e sociais do desastre da Vale/BHP/Samarco em Mariana (MG), elaborated by the Group Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade – PoEMAS.

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considered as locations directly or indirectly affected by the project. It is no exaggeration, therefore, to affirm that the EIS underestimated the potential impact of an accident on the communities located in the vicinity of the enterprise22. Justiça Global found, in loco, that the region is made up of several small rural communities, most of which are structured in small family production units. In view of the features of the terrain´s relief, the area´s pattern of human occupation and the proximity to the waterways - factors that should be paramount in analysis on the prevention of disasters involving tailings dam – it makes no sense to consider only the district of Bento Rodrigues as the only potentially affected location. It is clear that the company did not seriously take into account the scope of the region that could be affected by such a disaster, when preparing its emergency action plan. In 2013, the Fundão dam underwent a process of revalidation of its Operating License (OL)23. At the time, a study commissioned by the Minas Gerais Prosecutor´s Office, conducted by the Pristine Institute, stated that there was a risk of rupture in the dam, due to the synergetic impacts caused by an overlapping of areas directly affected by the Fundão Dam and the União Spoil Tip in Vale´s Fabrica Nova Mine24. ANevertheless, the OL was granted by the Minas Gerais State Environmental Policy Council (COPAM, acronym in Portuguese). In other words, it is possible to affirm that the company and the State of Minas Gerais were aware of the possibility of dams rupturing, a further reason for the elaboration of an effective prevention plan, with training activities in communities and a warning system in the event of a disruption. Testimonials from residents affected by the tragedy, reveal the understanding that the company knew of the risks related to the dam as well as the absence of a warning system. According to a resident of Bento Rodrigues, interviewed by Justiça Global on November 14, 2015,

22 Information available in the Report: Antes fosse mais leve a carga: uma avaliação dos aspectos econômicos e sociais do desastre da Vale/BHP/Samarco em Mariana (MG), elaborated by Grupo Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade – PoEMAS. Available at: < http://www.ufjf.br/poemas/files/2014/07/PoEMAS-2015-Antes-fosse-mais-leve-a-carga-versão-final.pdf>. Access on: 06 dez. 2015 23 The environmental licensing process has three distinct stages: Preliminary License, Installation License and Operating License. The Preliminary License (LP) - should be requested to the Brazilian Environmental Agency (IBAMA), during the planning phase, or in the case of modifications or expansion of the enterprise. This license does not authorize the installation of the project, but approves the environmental feasibility of the project and authorizes its location and design technology. It also establishes the conditions to be considered in the development of the executive project. The Installation License, authorizes the start of constructions or the installation of the enterprise. The validity period of this license is established in accordance to the project or activity installation schedule, but may not exceed six (6) years. The Operating License must be requested before the project comes into operation, since this license authorizes the operation of the enterprise. Its concession is subject to compliance with all the technical requirements and details described in the approved project. The expiry date is established and cannot be less than four (4) years and more than ten (10) years. 24 Available at: <http://www.meioambiente.mg.gov.br/images/stories/URCS_SupramCentral/RioVelhas/69/9.1-laudo-tecnico.pdf>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015.

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[...] They didn’t not tell us anything. It was the local residents that did, thank God they are all friends and committed, that have long lived with this dam thing, that managed to save everyone. A girl who worked in the Samarco area, down there, in Bento Rodrigues, in the Farm that was also taken by the mud, she heard on the radio and went off calling the whole community, which gave us time to save a lot of people, because of her […]

A resident of Camargos, when asked about the existence of alerts, also noted the absence of such a system: No, a couple of days before the disaster we heard an explosion, a very strong explosion that filled the sky with a red smoke... So I though, oh my, what ‘s that? Is it fire in the hills? We thought it was a fire, but it wasn’t, it was already the dam, wasn’t it?

The testimony of this resident also reveals the possibility that the company had prior knowledge

of the dangers in relation to the dam bursting:

Samarco, I think she is responsible for all of this because I have participated in several meetings at Samarco and they never touched on this subject of waste, that the dam could burst at any time. They only explained how to get the ore out, gave us cooking courses, on deserts. But they never talked about this. We could never imagine. I heard that they knew that this dam could burst, that it couldn’t sustain so much waste, that the mud would flow down here and reach Camargos. But they never mentioned anything. Because it was a failure for sure. It was a failure because before that, because they knew that there were risks in this dam. So what is their obligation? To put a siren here and in Bento, and in various sectors. But they never did anything. They thought it would never happen. They waited for it to happen to then act. So it was a very big failure. I think, thats how I consider it, I don`t understand geology, I don´t understand anything, but I think it was a very large fault of theirs, with humans and the environment (Interview on Nov.13, 2015)

In an interview given to Justiça Global on November 14 of this year, another resident of Bento Rodrigues, former employee of Samarco, which previously worked in the Fundão dam went further, stating:

It is a sad time to remember because knowing that for a long time now they had already heard that the dam was dangerous, that there were risks, that in meetings when inquired about the dam, that it was a risk, that it could break, and what could happen, then told people that it had a good flow rate and that it would not affect anyone. And today, what we see is that it virtually swept our district. Totally safe we knew it was´t , but we didn›t know a disaster could happen at this level, that this would happen.

On the lack of safety, the resident explained:

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11 I´am going to turn 31 now. I have heard this story for over 20 years now. When I was a kid, I can´t tell you when it was, it wasn’t a a drill, but an emergency, they evacuated everyone, brought the whole thing. That was more than 25 years ago and today, after all this time, we didn’t have an evacuation plan, an emergency plan, something to warn us because I believe that if we had about 15, 10 minutes there, a warning before, we would not have had human losses, we would not have had casualties. Material damages we can recover over time, but a life is difficult, there is no way, can`t even explain. But they didn’t tell us anything, we were all desperate at the time, everyone on the street, we were all running...

The renewal of the Fundao Dam´s operating license, which disregarded the risks of disruption highlighted in the Report elaborated in the context of the licencing process, also reveals the state`s neglect in regards to administrative procedures to prevent environmental risks. The environmental licensing process is a way of mitigating the effects, control the damage and minimize the risks that a project may offer to the population and the environment. To consider licensing procedures as mere bureaucratic obstacles that stand in the way of “progress”, the state allows economic interests to prevail and neglects its duty to safeguard the public interest. It should be noted that the other two dams operated by Samarco in the region, Germano and Santarém, are also at risk of rupturing25. This information was only confirmed by the company 12 days after the disaster involving the Fundão dam, when the press reported on the danger of a new disaster. The Santarém dam´s operating license expired in May 2013. The Germano dam, the largest dam in the complex, had a validate operating license between 2009 and 2013 but is also currently awaiting a renewal assessment. According to the State Secretary of Environment, the operation of the dams was still legal despite the expiration of the operating licenses since the renovation process was awaiting the manifestation of this environmental body26. The neglect and manipulation of environmental licensing procedures to favor economic interests not only occurs in specific cases, but is also accompanied by legislative proposals to amend the general system of environmental licensing. An example is the Senate Bill of Law nº. 654/2015, under process at the Senate Special Committee on National Development. The Bill reduces the control and supervision on the most complex infrastructure projects, presenting a number of innovations to the environmental licensing process, such as the elimination of the direct participation of affected and interested populations, a reduction in the time available for the elaboration of environmental studies and creates an “integrated environmental permit¨.

25 Available at: < http://g1.globo.com/minas-gerais/noticia/2015/11/samarco-admite-risco-de-rompimento-nas-barragens-santarem-e-germano.html>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015. 26 Available at: <http://oglobo.globo.com/brasil/licenciamento-de-barragem-em-mariana-esta-vencido-ha-dois-anos-18022460>. Access on: 07 dez. 2015.


4. The right to health and to a healthy environment

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At the global level, the right to health is enshrined in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by Brazil, which recognizes the right of all individuals to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. As stated by the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee (ESCRC)

article 12 recognizes that the right to health embraces a wide range of socio-economic factors that promote conditions in which people can lead a healthy life, and extends to the underlying determinants of health, such as food and nutrition, housing, access to safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, safe and healthy working conditions, and a healthy environment.27

The Committee also believes that the participation of the population throughout the whole decisionmaking process on health-related issues, are a part of this right. It is also worth mentioning that the right to health includes an obligation of the state, to the prevention and reduction of the ¨population’s exposure to harmful substances such as radiation and harmful chemicals or other detrimental environmental conditions that directly or indirectly impact upon human health¨. Furthermore, the UN established a set of ten specific steps that should be adopted in an event of accidents involving mining activities. They are as follows: 1) Identify the emergency response participants and establish the roles, resources and concerns; 2) evaluate the risks; 3) have participants review their own emergency plans and identify weaknesses; 4) identify adequate response tasks; 5) match these tasks to the resources available; 6) make the necessary changes to existing plans and integrate them into an overall emergency response and communications plan and gain agreement; 7) prepare final plan and obtain approvals; 8) training; 9) establish procedures for periodic testing, review and updating of the plan; and 10) communicate the integrated plan to the general community28. As can be seen, therefore, the Plan considered as exemplary by the UN, necessarily includes the participation of the surrounding community, which did not occur in the case of the Rio Doce disaster, caused by Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton. Nationally, the 1988 Federal Constitution enshrines health as a fundamental right, ensuring that 27 Comitê dos Direitos Econômicos, Sociais e Culturais, Observação Geral Nº 14, ‘O direito ao desfrute do mais alto nível possível de saúde (artigo 12 do Pacto Internacional dos Direitos Econômicos, Sociais e Culturais)”, E/C, 12/2000/4, § 2. 28 United Nations Environment Programme. APELL for Mining: guidance for the Mining Industry in Raising Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level. UNEP, 2001.


protection is also differentiated: Art. 6º – Education, health, food, work, housing, leisure, security, social welfare, protection of motherhood and childhood, and assistance to the destitute are social rights, as set forth in this Constitution.

Although the right to a healthy environment is not explicitly recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, it is linked to other rights protected by the Covenant, such as the right to health. One of the important milestones for the affirmation of the human right to the environment is the 1990 United Nations General Assembly Resolution, which recognized the right of individuals to live in an environment adequate for his or her health and well-being29. As such, for the purposes of this report, the right to live in a healthy environment is understood in its various dimensions, including the right to life, to health, to decent housing, environmental sanitation, and access to information and participation. Serious violations of these rights occurred after the collapse of the tailings dam, as will be demonstrated in the following sessions.

4.1 Psychosocial aspects of the affected populations Numerous psychosocial impacts on the population affected by the Mariana tragedy were observed at different levels and forms. A diagnosis carried out by a solidarity brigade comprised of doctors from the National Network of Popular Doctors, which spent fifteen days visiting the region, raised a series of concerns about the psychosocial state of the families, victims of the dam rupture, and the type of care offered to them by public health agencies: The cases that are presented at the Basic Health Unit are diarrhea and vomiting, respiratory problems, skin diseases, and conjunctivitis due to the contact with the mud and dust. However, at this point, the biggest demand is for the professionals to listen and counsel the victims, due to the trauma occurred. There are also concerns relating to health impacts in the medium and long term as a result of contact with the toxic sludge and the contamination of water, soil and animals. [...] There are various psychosocial impacts to the population affected in a disaster of this size. For starters, there is the suffering of the families that lost their loved ones. Suffering that in some cases has been prolonged due to the manner in which Samarco has conducted the process, generating more anxiety in people who just want to bury the bodies of their families with dignity.30

The professionals of the National Network of Popular Doctors, highlight demands related to 29 UN General Assembly. Need to ensure a healthy environment for the well-being of individuals, A/RES/45/94, 68th plenary session, Dec. 14, 1990, §1. 30 The full Report is Available at: https://saude-popular.org/?p=2016

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mental health as more urgent and constant: post-traumatic stress, depression, insomnia and anxiety.

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And this is not only in relation to the people that lost their homes or loved ones. The feeling of deep anguish is widespread in all the places where the waste mud passed, destroying homes, crops, buildings and killing animals, the fish and people. A farmer from Paracatu, for example, said, emotionally, in an interview on November 14, To be honest I hope that we can rescue our history... I cannot talk about it. Paracatu has been destroyed, hasn’t it? I don´t like talking about Paracatu. When I speak of Paracatu I get upset because it is the end of a history. It destroyed everything.

Many families didn’t have their homes destroyed, but lost cattle ranches that produced milk and other dairy products. These people also don’t´ know what will be of their future: from what and how will they guarantee their livelihood? One of the residents of Bento Rodrigues explained what is happening to another resident due to the destruction of his land: There is a guy there, he is actually a Vale child, from one of Vale´s trains, he worked with cows along with his brother. They had a small farm there and everything was destroyed. This guy is staying at another school here. He’s gone crazy, has threatened to commit suicide because he cannot live without his land. Everything that he did came from his land, he raised pigs, cows, had his horses. He lived from his land, cheese, milk, that´s what he lived from. He had oranges, tangerine, jabuticaba, which he sold, pineapple, everything. He lived from his land and now he lost everything. It’s complicated. (Interview on Nov. 14, 2015)

The same feeling crushes farmers that have had their crops destroyed, as is the case in the district of Gesteira, in the municipality of Barra Long. Not many of the homes were destroyed, and there were no fatalities, but the mud destroyed all of the community´s plantations and cemented the bed of the North Gualaxo River, leaving farmers with no means of guaranteeing their livelihood. The anxiety that hit the fishermen of Rio Doce in such a desolating manner is no different. One of the most important river basins of Brazil, Rio Doce is renowned for the large quantity and variety of fish in its waters. “The first thing that came to me when I saw those fish dying, was, my life is over and my river died”31, cried out Benilde Madeira, a fisherman in Aimorés, Minas Gerais, interviewed on November 14, 2015. He continues: “I don´t know how I will pay my bills, I don´t know how I will survive, I don´t know, I don´t know, I just don´t know.” Who can tell what will happen to the thousands of families that depended on fishing in Rio Doce?

31 Available at: http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/noticias/2015/12/151130_pescador_foto_choro_entrevista_rs?ocid=socialflow_facebook


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Paracatu de Baixo


16 It is important to mention that the Movement of Peoples Affected by Dams (MAB, acronym in Portuguese) estimates that 2000 fishermen have been affected by the destruction of the Rio Doce basin. The same lament echoes among the Krenak indigenous peoples that lived on the banks of Rio Doce, at the hight of the municipality of Resplendor (MG). These indigenous peoples fished, bathed and had a deep spiritual relationship with the river since immemorial times. It was not «Rio Doce» for the Krenak, it was Watu, “Sweet Sea”, in their mother tongue. The indigenous peoples have already mobilized and blocked Vale`s train tracks passing through the village´s limits, and have protested several times since the mudflow affected the entire course of the river. “Theres no money to pay for the wealth that we had. The river is gone and it will not come back. It›s too sad. Everything we wanted, we could get from there. They took this joy from us”32, denounced Mauro Krenak during an interview on November 15, 2015. How are the Krenak peoples leading their lives with the sadness of having lost Watu? The testimonies of indigenous peoples and traditional communities living on the banks of Rio Doce reveal ways of life anchored in deep connections with the land, the river, the fauna and flora; a form of organizing the world and ideas that transcends the logic of economic exchanges, livelihoods, and even the language of rights: the collapse of the dam, the reduction of the river, and the consequences of the exploitation of economic activities in their traditional territories affect their way of life in an absolute manner. How to deal with the distress, anxiety, stress, sadness that are both individual and that simultaneously affect entire communities? Some of the particularly more dramatic cases refer to the population from Bento Rodrigues, the first rural district affected by the mud, which completely destroyed the community. Since Samarco had not installed any kind of warning device to alert residents in the event of dam ruptures, there was not enough time for everyone to be rescued. Some of the community members died, many were injured in the rush to escape from the mudflow, families lost each other in the confusion and only found each other the next day. The rupture took place around 16:00 and within very little time, the tailings mud slid down the hill and covered the five kilometers stretch between the dam and the community, while official assistance arrived only the next day. The surviving residents spent the night on top of a hill in the community limit, in panic, without being able to sleep. Below is a long account of one of Bento Rodrigues´s residents, a 30 year old pregnant woman that suffered a miscarriage while struggling to survive amid the mudflow. The report assembles a complete picture of what those moments of despair represented to the Bento Rodrigues population, affected without any notice. It also provides strong indications of the psychological distress faced by the affected people that went through these moments of horror and that now have doubts about the reconstruction of their lives: 32 Available at: <http://noticias.uol.com.br/cotidiano/ultimas-noticias/2015/11/19/indios-lamentam-tragedia-em-mg-o-rio-doce-sabia-que-ia-ser-morto.htm>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015.


When I knew the mud was flowing down, I held my two year old boy and went to the neighbor’s house, which was at a higher site than ours. We believed that it would come only a few centimeters from us. I thought the mud would come and then we would clean it up. We [her brother, son and three nephews] just had enough time to get in the house and get up on the couch. I held my nephew in my right arm and my son in the left. I was going to run but I couldn’t climb the hill. My legs were locked. I looked back and saw my brother with my three nephews in trouble so I went back to help him. He was there with his four year old son in his arms and the other ones behind him. When we realized the mud was inside the house, it was already knee high. Her house was big so when I saw the bottom of it fall, as if it was a piece of cardboard crumbling, being swallowed by the mud, I grabbed the boys with all the strength I had. When I sank and then came back, the first thing I did was look at my arms to make sure that the children were still with me, but I had lost them. I Prayed at the time for God to protect my children, my brother and my nephews from all this crap. And when I thought I was free, another wave came and sent me further away. Then I stood up to see where I was and I couldn’t see anyone. I tried to grab onto something, but everything I held, sank. And the waves kept dragging me. I asked God that if it was His will, that he let my son live, but if it was for him to die, then I would understand. That’s when I felt my son leaving my belly, falling down my legs. Maybe it was better this way, because I swallowed so much mud that he could have been born unhealthy. I saw a banana stem so I leaned over, I took a palm leaf and started waving. I asked a man I saw afar for help, but everything I clanged to, to get closer to him kept sinking. He threw a tree branch and pulled me in. I was weak and almost voiceless. He then managed to rescue my nephew also. I thought I would die and that at that point my children would already be dead. We could never imagine that a two year old [her son], four, five and eight year old boys [her nephew] would survive [her brother was found and hospitalized]. I thought I would die too. To this day I feel my body ache. I lost my three months old baby and my niece, 40 minutes before she had come to my house and asked for my blessing. I will fight for my rights until the end. No money in the world will bring them back. But I will not give up. If it had happened during the night, no one would have been saved. And to this day I still cannot believe what happened. I still want to go to Bento Rodrigues to see what happened. I know that everything has been destroyed. I see the news, I see photos and the newspaper. But I want to go there. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I prefer to stay up there [in the hotel room], alone, thinking. I only come down when necessary. I’ll never have my little place again. My place. It was so difficult to build. I got this house on April 11, last year. And today I look back and see that I’ll never have a house like that again. Even if they make me another house, with the same design, it will never be the same. There won´t be the street where my son and my nephews played. My house and my brother´s house were side by side. Last Sunday, everybody was at my mother’s house. My uncles, my brothers. The kids playing ball. My mother made bread. Everyone was happy. I´am in no condition for meetings now (with Samarco). We can´t even talk properly because there’s no time. They end the meeting and leave. They each come in their smart car and then, puff, they leave. The psychologist asked if I want treatment. I don´t. Those that beat, forget, those that take the beating, don´t. After all of this is regularized, they will make their money again. Millions, at our expense. We will never forget.

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4.2. The toxicity of the mud that contaminated the soil and the river´s waters

The fact that the mudflow reached several municipalities of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, led to the immediate termination of water capture from Rio Doce. This in turn led to a collapse in the supply of water throughout the Rio Doce basin, generating widespread lack of water in many cities, which then had to rely on supplies from water trucks and tanks, basically provided by local governments and Samarco. Water donations from various parts of Brazil have also reached many of these municipalities, but it hasn’t been sufficient to ensure the population´s basic needs.

Bento Rodrigues


The supply of water to the largest city in the region, Governador Valadares (MG), with nearly 300,000 inhabitants, was suspended on November 08. On November 10, the Mayor, Elisa Costa, decreed state of public calamity. On November 13, Vale sent water that was contaminated with kerosene33.This critical situation is far from being resolved, although in some cities, such as Governador Valadares, treatment of the Rio Doce water for human consumption has began. Even in this case, however, the process is interrupted every three days to clean the mud from the treatment station34. The residents’ testimonies indicate not only a different, strong odor and taste in the water and concerns about health related impacts, but also the company’s claim that the mud is not toxic. Furthermore, considering the amount of water that mining activities consume, as mentioned previously, the residential supply of water was already a problem prior to the disaster; a situation that was aggravated with the bursting of the dam. When asked about the information provided by the company or the state on issues related to the environment, water, the river and the possible toxicity of the mud, a resident of Bento Rodrigues, interviewed on November 14, 2015, said: No, not for us. The only information we have is coming from the TV. They said that the mud is not toxic. But even with the knowledge that I have, it is toxic because a lot of products are used to wash the ore, not only water. So I think that all of these products together there... When the ore was washed, there was always a bad smell, a strong smell of caustic soda. Even before the dam burst, we lived near the river, even in the community we felt a very strong smell. When something was discharged up there, when they opened one of the floodgates, the smell was pretty embarrassing for us down here. If you were having lunch, you could no longer eat your lunch properly. Then, when we inquired about it, they would tell us it was normal, it was this and that ... To this day they say that it is not toxic, but as far as I know... I would fish in the river, and if you stayed too long in the river, the fish you caught earlier would no longer be proper for eating. It would begin to melt. By the time we got home, the fish would almost be in a rotting state, improper for consumption. An analysis of this water was made, but we never had any response in regards to the results, nothing. We no longer frequented the wells, the places where we would swim in the river. We left this routine behind. We were looking for other places to go, by ourselves. The company didn’t do much for us. They say this sludge is not toxic, but for me, I think it is. The contact with this mud, well, everyone should be worried and seek medical attention. Some people don’t think it is, but I think it’s dangerous, it’s a risk. We were already experiencing lack of water, living in a district surrounded by water. Samarco took our resources, our water, and gave nothing back. They then created a system, I think Samarco was paying for the municipality to provide water, but so far we didn’t have running water and nothing was done about it. For years now Samarco has 33 Available at: <http://noticias.uol.com.br/cotidiano/ultimas-noticias/2015/11/13/vale-envia-agua-com-querosene-para-moradores-de-governador-valadares-mg.htm>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015. 34 Available at: <http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/geral/noticia/2015-11/abastecimento-com-agua-do-rio-doce-e-retomado-em-governador-valadares-e>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015.

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been taking our resources and giving nothing back..

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A resident of Paracatu de Baixo, a farmer that had her farm, garden and production destroyed, also revealed during an interview with Justiça Global on November 14, 2015, that the company is disseminating the information that the mud is non-toxic. At the same time, the farmer spoke of a bad smell: A manager from the Company has already talked to me. They said: Mrs. don´t worry because it is not dangerous. It has no smell. But there was a very strong smell here, a smell of carrion. The fish stank too. I was even wondering if there was a dead body there. Then we discovered that it was the fish tank.

The husband, also a farmer, argued during the same interview: We are trying to avoid contact with the place that was flooded. It may not have toxins, but just the fact that the mud is dammed there, means that its full of microbes. No child or anyone can walk in this mud there. The girl from over there was walking in the mud, she got jammed and messed her whole outfit.

Milk producer, from Paracatu de Cima, in an interview on November 14, 2015, revealed the lack of consistency in regards to the information disseminated on the issue: There are people here that told me that this mud is very toxic. That if a chicken steps in that mud, I can no longer eat her meat. I looked for my friends, people who have worked with this type of mud that told me otherwise, that even if there are certain products in it, it’s not heavy metal, its non-toxic, there is caustic soda, other components that can harm your skin, irritate your skin, but it is not as aggressive as people are saying. There is another friend of mine that worked at Samarco for 30 years, he worked in the lab, he told me that the mud is not toxic. Whenever someone from the company comes here, I ask them. They said it isn’t toxic. So, we have to believe that something good will happen because if we think that this mud is poisonous, then the tragedy will be even worse, right?

At the same time, the farmer reveals concerns on the impact of the environmental disaster on the quality of the river water: Oh, a lot has already been affected hasn’t it? It has affected a lot. The River is now full of silt. We don’t know how the River will behave when it rains, if it will generate an accident, floods or something like that. That’s one thing we’re still assessing, but the River was very affected. If you see an image of the River, you will only see the mud. In this sense, the situation is complicated because I don’t know whether they will remove the mud, I don´t know what they will do, but this part of the environment was greatly affected.

A resident of Camargos, also reflects on the environmental impacts, stating that: At Samarco they are saying that this residue doesn’t have anything toxic in it, but we don’t believe them because many people we know, a relative that worked there, know there is mercury, know there is sodium, that there are various types of toxic waste,


because it accumulates over the years, right? If it kills the fish, it kills everything, it kills everything, right? I think it was a large catastrophe for our Minas Gerais. It mistreated the environment in such a way that 10-15 years will not be enough to restore what has been devastated (Interview on Nov. 14, 2015)

The city of Colatina, in the state of Espírito Santo, resumed the treatment of the Rio Doce water, but on November 23 interrupted the process due to doubts on the it´s effectiveness35. The high mortality rate of the fish and the difficulties related to the water treatment, raises serious doubts on the toxicity of the water and the mud. This distinction is crucial: it is important to monitor the water, but more is needed. A high percentage of iron, but also other minerals, especially silica, is deposited in all of the mining tailings dam. However, residually connected to the iron rock, there are always a number of heavy metals such as manganese, lead, cadmium, chromium and arsenic that can be found. The case of arsenic is particularly important because the mining complex of Mariana is located in a mining province which has, according to geologists, a geological anomaly, which causes it to have a very high concentration of arsenic associated with the iron. All of these heavy minerals are found in residual form in the rock, but in a tailings dam they may be more concentrated. Due to the very nature of the substance, heavy metals tend to be deposited on the river bed. In this sense, analyzes of the water are insufficient; the river beds also need to be analyzed. This higher concentration of heavy metals does not immediately harm our health, however, problems generally manifest themselves in the organism, years after the contact. As such, this is characterized as a long term public health issue associated with the water and the mud. It is important to mention that the analysis of the water and riverbeds should take into account, in addition to the toxic material deposited in the dam, the organic matter resulting from the flooding of the crops, animals and bushes. This was all swept away by the toxic sludge for 100 kilometers. These elements create a high level of organic decomposition in the places where they were deposited and in the rivers. Furthermore, there are also the urban areas of the districts that were destroyed, where the mud also dragged: grease traps, drains, and even a garimpo, a small informal mining area, downstream of Bento Rodrigues, was buried. In this area, gold was extracted with the use of mercury. Therefore, as can be seen, the situation related to the mud and water is highly complex. Public bodies have not been able to adequately and regularly monitor all of the water and mud, along the different parts of the basin. The local governments of Governador Valadares (MG), Baixo 35 Available at: < http://g1.globo.com/espirito-santo/noticia/2015/11/captacao-no-rio-doce-e-retomada-em-colatina-apos-analises.html>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015.

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22 Guandu (ES) and Colatina (ES) released the results of water analyzes, but the information was very much focused on the water, without providing the general data analysis. While recognizing the limitations of official analyses carried out until now, it is important to consider some of the information presented by the Minas Gerais Institute on Water Management (IGAM, acronym in Portuguese)36. The study addresses only the surface water and sediments of Rio Doce, not covering in its scope, the Gualaxo do Norte and Do Carmo Rivers, both tributaries of Rio Doce, which were immediately affected by the mudflow. According to the Report, “it was not possible to collect water samples in the Rivers Gualaxo do Norte (directly affected by the rupture of the dams) and do Carmo (which directly receives water from Gualaxo do Norte), due to the volume of waste and bodies of water completely taken by silt”37. To monitor the quality of the water, IGAM considered the following parameters: turbidity, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, total solids, total dissolved solids, solids in total suspension, total arsenic as well as the following metals: dissolved aluminum, dissolved iron, dissolved copper, total chromium, total cadmium, total lead, total manganese, total nickel and total mercury. The studies have been conducted continuously since November 07, in 12 monitoring sites along the course of Rio Doce. Below are a few points taken from the technical report: l Turbidity: In the first two days of monitoring the water, the values of turbidity in parts of Rio Doce exceeded in more than six thousand times, the maximum legal value of 100 NTU. In the cities of Rio Doce (MG) and Belo Oriente (MG) values of the order of hundreds of thousands turbidity units were observed, reaching a maximum of 606.200 NTU in the city of Marliéria. With the waste current, from November 9, turbidity values reached 140,000 NTU in Governador Valadares (MG) l Dissolved oxygen: The collection points registered low concentrations of oxygen, below 0.5 mg/L, as a result of the waste influx. l Electrical conductivity: The report indicates that during the period November 07-13, the values of electrical conductivity ranged between 99.41 μS/cm and 312.3 μS/cm. Levels above 100 μS/ cm indicate impacted environments. l Solids (total, soluble and particulate): According to the Report, “due to the presence of refuse in the stretch located between the cities Rio Doce (MG) and Belo Oriente (MG), suspended solids have increased on the order of hundreds of thousands, most of which are total solids, while the proportion of dissolved solids is in the order of hundreds due to an increase of about 3-6 times compared to the numbers observed in the time series”. In the stretch between Periquito (MG) and Conselheiro Pena (MG), the values suffered an elevation from November 09, with the waste influx. The maximum amount recorded was 30,270 mg/L in Tumiritinga (MG) on November 12. 36 Instituto Mineiro de Gestão das Águas. Monitoramento da Qualidade das Águas Superficiais do Rio Doce no Estado de Minas Gerais (Relatório Técnico Preliminar), de 30 de Novembro de 2015. Available at: <http://www.igam. mg.gov.br/images/stories/2015_ARQUIVOS/QUALIDADE_RIO_DOCE/2Relatorio_Qualidade_30nov.pdf>. Access on 05 dez. 2015. 37 Ibidem.


l Dissolved Iron: The values of dissolved iron also increased to the extent that the waste current advanced over Rio Doce. The highest value registered was 32.26 mg/L in Belo Oriente (MG), well above the 0.3 mg/L legal limit. l Total Manganese: At the peak of the waste influx, between the municipalities of Rio Doce (MG) and Belo Oriente (MG), the values of manganese were between 9.65 and 936 mg/L. The legal limit is 0.1 mg/L. l Dissolved Aluminum: The highest values of aluminum were found between the municipalities of Rio Casca (MG) and Belo Oriente (MG) on November 07 and 08, with results ranging from 2.90 and 32.20 mg/L. The legal limit is 0.1 m. l Total arsenic, cadmium, lead, chromium, mercury, nickel and dissolved copper: The Report found an increase in the values of arsenic, cadmium, lead, chromium and nickel to the extent that the flow of waste reached the monitoring sites. The largest value of total arsenic registered was 0.11 mg/L in Belo Oriente (MG) on November 8, 10 times more then the legal limit of 0.1 mg/L. On the same day and in the same municipality, the highest value of total cadmium, of approximately 0.016 mg/L, was also registered, when the legal limit is 0.001 mg/L. The total lead values reached 1.65 mg/L in Ipatinga, on November 07; dissolved copper, 0.67 mg/L in Rio Casca, also on November 07; total chromium, 2.83 in Belo Oriente, on November 08; and total nickel, approximately 6.5 mg/L in Marliéria, on November 07. All of the figures presented are dozens or even hundreds of times higher than the legal limits.

5. Assistance to people affected in the rural areas of Alto Rio Doce It’s not just in relation to the analysis of the levels of toxicity in the waste, water and mud that the government ‘s stance appears to be reluctant and not at all transparent. In most affected districts of the Rio Doce region, especially in the districts directly affected by the flood of waste in the municipalities of Mariana and Barra Longa, a strong presence of the Samarco in detriment of public bodies such as the Public Defender, the Public Prosecutor´s Office and the Municipalities, was observed. Mediation in relation to the damages caused by the tragedy has been carried out mainly by employees of the company, rather than by representatives of public bodies, as Justiça Global´s team attested during in loco visits. As a result of these visits, its possible to argue that there is a need for greater attention by public bodies in the rural districts, which were heavily affected by the mud. Below are a few: Gesteira (District of Barra Longa): according to reports from the residents, all of the plantations were destroyed. The district lived off family and dairy farming, and from what they could sell in terms of milk and dairy products. Most of the livestock was buried in the mud on the day of the tragedy and the remaining livestock died since due to lack of water since the river has been contaminated by the mud. One of the bridges of the district was destroyed, dividing the town into two, leaving them without communication to date.

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24 Paracatu de Cima (District of Mariana): the district of Paracatu de Cima is approximately 40 km from the center of Mariana. The village consists of small farms, most of them in the banks of the Gualaxo do Norte River, which directly and immediately received the waste flow from the burst dam. The scenery is one of destruction throughout the course of the River, almost completely full of silt due to the waste. As each day goes by, the dried mud becomes a hard cement deposited in the bed of the River. The mudflow took with it plantations, livestock, native trees, houses and stables that were in the Gualaxo River valley. The destructive force of the waste also took with it bridges and covered roads, leaving residents stranded and without electricity. Residents report that they were warned of the collapse of the dam by helicopter and as such quickly left their homes in the early evening of November 05. Many sought shelter in neighboring properties at the highest site of the town, and heard, during the whole night, the sound of the destruction of the mud. In the morning, the pain of seeing the work of a lifetime flooded and carried away by the waste. In addition to the houses destroyed, farmers still suffer from the fact that their livelihood, their labour, has been jeopardized. Livestock farming, one of the main activities of the region, has been seriously compromised, either due to the death of animals, the destruction of grassland, or the silt and contamination of the Gualaxo do Norte River, which supplied the flock with water. A farmer from Paracatu de Cima explained, We have an Association of Milk Producers here, with 85-90 families as members. 50% was totally affected, they can´t produce, can´t sell their products, production fell, those that are still producing, are producing very little because of the damages to the livestock feed, food for the cows. Our Association has a fixed monthly cost, and this expense is diluted by the total volume of production. Our total today is around 2500 liters, while it was 5-6 thousand liters per day. So the Association is also affected because the profit will now be lower than the expense, which will increase. So the Association has also been hurt, as has our activity, because the economy of our region is the dairy business. Besides making a living from this activity, we also create jobs. Do you understand? At least in my case, the only thing I do is produce milk. So everyone is affected (Interview on Nov. 14 , 2015).

Another family of farmers also revealed that their entire production was destroyed, “Orange, banana, yam, cassava, we had everything here. We had everything here. And it wasn’t just a little bit, it was enough for our livelihood, as well as for our children who took what they needed from the backyard.” When asked what happened to their production, they replied, “It’s all gone. Our place is the one you saw, the yellow house. There is nothing left there anymore. I had a garden that was a beauty. We really had a lot of things” (Interview on Nov. 14, 2015). It is important to mention that these are people that have spent a lifetime living off agriculture: “I’m 73, I was born with my teeth in the fields, as they say, working with the hoe, the hoe, and now I have to go to the city? I can´t.” Furthermore, when asked about their reaction to the disaster, the farmer from Paracatu de Cima said, “Just hassle. Something I also thought was, is this how I will end my life? I cannot stand the city. I’m used to the countryside.” (Interview on Nov. 14, 2015) .


Ponte do Gama (District of Mariana): many houses and plantations were destroyed. The Civil Defense of Mariana convinced the remaining families to move to Mariana on November 24. Similarly, losses of livestocks and plantations were also registered in the districts of Pedras, Camargos, Bicas and Campinas, all belonging to the municipality of Mariana. It was only 20 days after the tragedy that the population began to be assisted in a continuous manner. Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu de Baixo: Residents of Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu de Baixo, the two locations most affected by the destruction promoted by the toxic mud from the collapse of the dam, are staying in hotels in the city of Mariana, and also in places adapted to accommodate them. The conditions under which these people have been hosted has shown to be variable, both in regards to the treatment they have received in the cities’ hotels, as the conditions and structure of the improvised shelters. The unpleasantness with this temporary situation is, however, common to all of the residents - they feel like nomads, deprived of their most basic belongings, having to share small spaces with their family, friends or even strangers. The common demand is to leave the hotels and temporary shelters for homes in the city, to be rented by Samarco. Rio Gualaxo do Norte, Paracatu de Cima

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26 The former inhabitants of Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu de Baixo, feel insecure in regards to the interim rent period, raising the lack of stability in regards to the places they are offered at this time. Will it be sufficient to start rebuilding their lives and to structure a new home, or will they soon be relocated again, resuming the pilgrimage already underway in some of the hotels and shelters of the city? The following testimonials reveal these concerns. Families are staying in hotels, divided in several hotels in the city. Some are from Bento Rodrigues, others from Paracatu. They now want to leave the hotels, they want a home, housing. And what do we mainly need? We need to build a new Bento. So we created this Commission to be near to Samarco, demanding to know how long it will take for them to construct this new Bento Rodrigues, the new sub-district. Everyone is fed up of staying in hotels. There are families that have ten children. There are others living alone. We’re not sure whether they will give everyone a house and how long they will pay the rent for. They say they will pay until they build a new Bento, but we don´t have a document here that affirms that. That’s what we need from Samarco (Mariana Resident, Interview on Nov. 14, 2015) . Everyone stayed there in the Arena, people from Paracatu, from Bento, all together there until they decided we were going to hotels. But the hotels were not ready to receive us because we arrived at the hotel and they hadn’t arranged anything, You then had to go through the hassle of waiting there, outside, with the donations we received, with children, I have two children, in the hot sun, outside the hotel because nothing had been arranged, they were not warned. We have been here for 9-10 days already, waiting for a reply from Samarco. They talked of a house, but we don´t known when, if it will be this week, the next or the other. They said they’ll give us a house and after this house they will rebuild our new community, our district. They don’t know where yet. They are looking for a safe place. Until then we are left here, waiting. Just as there was neglect in not warning us that the dam had collapsed, that there was this risk, the day before, an hour before, 10 minutes before, we are also afraid of today or tomorrow, of not having a hotel to stay in anymore, for example, of us being removed from the hotel and not having a house yet to go to. They haven´t built the town yet. Until then we are left here. If they forget, I think we’ll be abandoned. There will come a point when we will be thrown out of the hotel. There is a hotel that has already asked for the rooms back because they are going to hold an event. The people were transferred to another hotel. It is an inconvenience for them, for the child, to have to move everything again. We live with this fear, of not having a home anymore. We will be like gypsies, going from here to there... It’s hard. (Resident of Bento Rodrigues, interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

As well as accommodation, the residents receive three meals in the hotels where they are being hosted. In some places, however, the residents reported a difference in the quality of the services offered to regular guests of the hotels and the services offered to displaced residents of Bento and Paracatu de Baixo. Some of the former residents report that the food is not the same as the food usually served to regular guests and that the quality of the periodic cleaning of the rooms is also inferior.


Other reports obtained also indicate the discontent of residents because they have been separated from their families, often in distant locations. The disaster has also led to a break in community bonds: Since we are a closed community, we are united, and sometimes people think that we are not, because the community is so small, but we are very united. We often say that we are all relatives. Although my family is very large, I am from the Souza family, my family is very big, we realize that we have lost everything. I lost my house, my street. So for me, the person that lost a loved one, it’s as if it was a piece of me also, my family also. Because I know everyone here, one supports the other. Whatever I need, I go to my neighbor’s house, I go down the street, and vice versa. We look to each other for everything, for work and all (Resident of Bento Rodrigues, interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

There is also a direct impact on the work routine of these residents. Almost all of the residents are no longer able to exercise their professional activities, either because they were involved in agricultural activities directly related to the land devastated by the mud or because they carried out activities related to the local economy (commerce, small construction related activities - bricklayer, woodworker - etc.). As mentioned by a resident of Bento Rodrigues,

I hope we can start over as soon as possible, get back to our routine, raise our children. Raising children in the city is very complicated. The city is pretty different from our routine. Here we don´t even know what to do properly. We go out, go to a hotel, visit a friend, a relative, go out a bit, get something here and there, but it’s not the same thing, is not the same (Interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

Some of the residents accommodated in temporary shelters share small spaces with dozens of people. The beds are placed side by side and small bags of belongings pile up in these spaces turned into bedrooms. The inadequacy of these shelters, especially regarding the elderly and people with limited mobility or special needs, was also reported. In my grandmother´s room there are 14 people who used to live in the same house, they stuck everyone in the same room. I even have a picture here to show you. In these shelters there is a larger number of people, from Bento and Paracatu. Here there are only people from Bento. Her room is so crowded, 14 people sleeping all together (Resident of Bento Rodrigues, interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

The former residents of Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu de Baixo also report the lack of financial assistance for them to purchase basic survival items. In this regard, Samarco has made a committed to provide each “head of the household” a card with a minimum wage, which could be used in any of the shops in the city. However, the residents received no information on the details of these cards, and there are still many doubts about the liquidity of this form of money transfer chosen by the mining company. There are also criticisms in regards to the value to be given to each family, considered as insufficient to cover the most basic expenses. In this sense, the Mariana Municipality affirmed that it has asked Samarco for a 20% raise in the amount offered to each dependent person. At the time of Justiça Global´s field visit, the card had not yet been distributed and Samarco had not yet responded in regards to request for an increase in the value in accordance with the number of dependents. At a meeting organized by the Municipality of Mariana on November 14, the former residents of Bento declared that they don´t want to go back to the location where the village once stood. They demand that Bento be rebuilt, by Samarco, in a new location, in the company´s land or in land provided

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by the local government, as can be seen in the following statement:

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The people are now committed to guaranteeing a location in the direction of the old Bento, where Bento Rodrigues used to be. The company has its own land that it could make available. This will be put to the vote of the community. The fact is that nobody wants the new town to be where Bento Rodrigues used to be. The trauma is such that there are people that will not even go there to visit (Resident of Mariana, a member of the Residents’ Committee, interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

Some of the residents from Bento have reported that they have also been victims of discriminatory and racist attitudes on the part of Mariana residents and even in the hotels where they are staying. Statements such as “there comes that bunch of black people” or “ here comes that homeless bunch” were described as common by some of the locals. This situation mainly affects the children and young people, who no longer have the same freedom of movement, and that are always under the watchful eye of parents and relatives. Sometimes we walk down the street and they say, look at the homeless. There are many people who don’t want to leave the hotel. There are people who stay locked in the hotel all the time, all the time. Some of the seniors don`t leave the hotel because they are afraid of certain verbal abuses. My grandmother suffers a lot in her room. Its hard for her to move from one place to another, if she walks a lot today, tomorrow she has to stay the whole day in bed. So she doesn’t go out, afraid of these things. Afraid of listening to things that can break her heart. This is how we talk, we are from the countryside, we are humble, but we all know what we want (Resident of Bento Rodrigues, interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

6. Access to information As revealed in several testimonies previously presented, the violation of the right to access to information has been a constant since the first moment of the tragedy. Lack of information on the number of victims, on the extent of the destruction, on the total number of affected communities, on the risk of further ruptures in the dams, on the levels of heavy metals in the dams, on the possible toxicity of the water and mud, on the health impacts of mud, on the impacts of the mud on the animals, or on the impact of the mud to the ecosystem in the long run. Families that had their homes destroyed or that lost a family member also didn’t receive adequate information on the procedures carried out over the twenty days of tragedy. The most emblematic case of violation of access to information, concerns the cause of the disaster itself. For ten days the company and the government reported that two tailings dams had burst - the Fundão and the Santarém dams. Even more detailed explanations were broadcasted, saying that the Fundão dam had ruptured, causing the disruption of the Santarém dam, located in a lower terrain. This information was disclosed, also by regulatory agencies, and replicated by the press. It was only on November 15, in a national television program, that the information that only one of the tailings dams


had ruptured was finally disclosed. The information was provided by technicians from the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM, acronym in Portuguese), in an interview during the Program Fantástico, on the Brazilian television network Rede Globo . This case either demonstrates a serious negligence of the company and the governmental supervisory bodies, which took ten days to find out that only one of the dams had ruptured, or a serious case of violation of access to information, with the concealment of the actual causes of the tragedy and the proportion of the risks of further disasters. Reports of cracks in the Germano and Santarém dams also circulated for several days as rumors, causing panic among the local population. It also took several days after the disaster for Samarco to finally confirm the cracks and provide details on the emergency containment procedures that it would adopt. A resident of Camargos said, “a lot of things are concealed.” Information was also circulating in the region, about the possible disruption of another dam, which this time was regarded as the third. During an interview on November 14, 2015 with this resident, a siren rang. When asked what had been explained to them in regards to the siren, this resident said:

I don›t know, they didn›t say anything. They only thing they said was that if the siren rang we had to run towards the church because it meant was the dam was bursting. We don›t know if it›s a false alarm, what it is. We›re here apprehensive about it aren›t we? I don›t know if it›s a test. People from Samarco just passed by. Darling [her husband], get our documents, put everything in a bag, clothes also, because the siren rang up there. We don›t know if it is an alarm, a horn. Turn on the radio because they will notify us. The bad thing is that a group of people went down to the waterfall when they weren›t supposed to. Turn on the radio because they will give the news in real time. I believe Graça will come down if she hears it. Its a pain because we don›t have peace here anymore, not even when sleeping. We wanted a response from Samarco, to see how things will turn out. Because the day that it happened, we took such a scare, we were in a state of shock, with all of this that has happened and to this day we don›t have peace. Bento has been destroyed. Could you imagine if it also happened to our Camargos? We are at a distance that, if the worse comes to worst, we have to run. Its absurd. Yes, today we heard that there is another dam. They are filming up there and they said that the dam has a three meter crack. Then Samarco says that is a lie, that there isn´t another dam, but the fireman confirmed that there is. So we›re not sure who to believe. But the fireman gave an interview today and said that there is. They say that it is under maintenance, but I do not know if its the same maintenance as they gave the other dam that burst. Then instead of bursting one, two will burst. I don›t believe in anything they say. Let›s hope it all works out for us.

A Bento Rodrigues resident also denounced problems related to the information provided: It is very worrying not knowing anything about what going on up there. There are people that are still missing. The information is distorted, mis-matched. We don›t know for sure what›s going on, what isn›t, if the searches for missing people continue or not, what›s going on (Interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

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30

7. The legal form hindering corporate accountability To begin with, it is important to note that, as acknowledged by the 3rd Civil Court of the state of Espírito Santo, on a preliminary decision requiring Samarco to present and implement a contingency plan in order to prevent and contain the spread of the mudflow on the beaches of Espírito Santo, Samarco “was not guided before and hasn’t been guided since, by the compliance with the environmental principles of prevention and precaution,” only acting after being provoked by the Public Prosecutor´s Office38. As mentioned above, Samarco Mineração is the result of a joint venture agreement between Vale S/A and BHP Billiton Ltda, both holders of their own legal personalities according to Brazilian law. Although shareholders of Samarco, the two companies deny any legal responsibility for the Rio Doce tragedy. In a recent statement, Clovis Torres, General Adviser of the mining company, said: “No, Vale is not legally responsible [for the collapse of the Samarco dams in Mariana]”. According to him, it may be argued that the company has responsibility as a shareholder of Samarco, but not that it is directly responsible for the tragedy39. In an interview to one of the largest Brazilian newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, the president of Vale, Murilo Ferreira, expressed sadness in relation to the collapse of the dam and perplexity due to the overwhelming progress made by Vale in terms of security measures. He said that the recovery of Rio Doce will be his “mission in life”40. These public statements were given at the same time as the announcement of the establishment of a voluntary fund, by Vale and BHP Billiton, to recover Rio Doce41. Under Brazilian law, Samarco is the company directly responsible for the tragic episode in Mariana, due to its autonomous legal status in relation to its shareholders. Its only if Samarco lacks sufficient funds to compensate the victims and the environmental damage, that its shareholders would 38 Preliminary decision issued in the records of the Public Civil Suit nº. 0133761-45.2015.4.02.5001, being processed at the 3ª Federal Civil Court, Judicial Division of Espírito Santo. Available at: <http://s.conjur.com.br/dl/samarco-plano-contingencia-liminar.pdf>. Access on: Dec. 08, 2015. 39 Available at: <http://exame.abril.com.br/negocios/noticias/vale-nega-responsabilidade-legal-pelo-desastre-de-mariana>. Access on: 03 dez. 2015. 40 Available at: <http://m.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2015/12/1713890-cai-no-chao-mas-agora-tenho-uma-missao-dizpresidente-da-vale-sobre-tragedia-em-mg.shtml?mobile>. Access on: Dec. 03, 2015. 41 Available at: <http://brasil.estadao.com.br/noticias/geral,vale-e-bhp-terao-fundo-voluntario-para-recuperacao-do-rio-doce,10000003139>. Access on: Dec. 03, 2015.


be called on to cover the costs. This is according to art. 4 of Law 9,605/98. However, if the companies are not responsible for the social and environmental damage caused by the disruption of the Fundão dam, why create a voluntary fund? This type of strategy is, in fact, in accordance with the corporate social responsibility perspective used by the companies - especially Vale – to avoid its human rights obligations, hiding under the cloak of another legal entity: the one created by the joint venture. As such, the voluntary commitment to create a fund for the reconstruction of Rio Doce helps to conceal the fact that Vale is responsible for the operational side of the joint venture, while BHP Billiton´s role in Brazil is characterized as “not responsible for operations¨, functioning only as an investor of Samarco42. Furthermore, the assumption that the companies lack direct responsibility for the tragedy, while concurrently creating a voluntary fund, also obscures the reality that Vale also benefited from the Fundão dam for its own activities; despite initially stating that it was only responsible for 5% of the dam, this figure is, in fact, 28%43. Vale is known for its human rights violation. In 2012, for example, the company won the Public Eye Award for being the worst company in the world44, due to the environmental and social impacts, for the impacts on traditional populations, and labor rights causes as a result of its activities in about thirty countries, as well as for espionage acts against social movements. The human rights violations caused by the company are constantly denounced in dossiers prepared by the International Movement of People Affected by Vale, in opposition to the company’s Sustainability Reports. The last Vale Unsustainability Report, denounced some of the violations arising from the company’s operations, such as espionage, siltation of water sources, the displacement of communities, cases of people getting run over by its trains, harassment of workers, air pollution, lack of transparency in relation to the environmental impact studies, violations of the right to come and go, damage to the health of communities surrounding its operations, leakage of acid waste in streams and the underreporting of the number of work related accidents45.

42 Information available in the Report: Antes fosse mais leve a carga: uma avaliação dos aspectos econômicos e sociais do desastre da Vale/BHP/Samarco em Mariana (MG), elaborated by Grupo Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade – PoEMAS. Available at: < http://www.ufjf.br/poemas/files/2014/07/PoEMAS-2015-Antes-fosse-mais-leve-a-carga-versão-final.pdf>. Access on: 06 dez. 2015

43 Available at: <http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2015/12/1715301-vale-jogou-mais-lama-em-barragem-do-quehavia-declarado-aponta-laudo.shtml>. Access on: Dec. 08, 2015. 44 Available at: <http://global.org.br/programas/vale-vence-o-public-eye-awards-premio-de-pior-empresa-do-mundo/>. Access on: Dec. 08, 2015. 45 Available at: <https://atingidospelavale.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/relatirio_pdf.pdf>. Access on: Dec. 08, 2015.

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Thus, it is strategic for Vale not to assume direct responsibility for the Rio Doce disaster, voluntarily committing itself to providing funds as a way of responding to the various social criticism directed at the company and the reactions of the financial market, such as the company´s withdrawal from the Corporate Sustainability Index (ISE, acronym in Portuguese) of the São Paulo stock market, Bovespa46. Created in 2005 by the São Paulo Stock Market, the index seeks to provide investors with a portfolio option made up of shares of companies that have a commitment to “corporate sustainability based on economic efficiency, environmental balance, social justice and corporate governance”47. The withdrawal of Vale from the ISE probably took place in order to avoid compromising the Index´s rate of profitability - in 10 years ISE has had a return of 128.9%, compared to the 51.3% of the Bovespa Index - as well as its credibility. ISE´s presents itself as “compatible with contemporary society´s demands for sustainable development.” Soon after the accident, Vale´s shares fell by 7.55%48. However, the lack of a mandatory requirement for Vale to assume its responsibility for the human rights violations resulting from the rupture of the Fundão dam, makes it hard to enforce changes in the company´s operational strategies. Furthermore, the amount that the Company contributed to the Fund on its establishment, is much lower than the amount the company would have to pay if it were convicted in a civil reparations suit. Of course the concealment of Vale and BHP Bilinton´s responsibility for the Rio Doce tragedy is not in contradiction to the Brazilian legal system. In fact, the Special Purpose Entity instrument, provided for in art. 981, sole paragraph of the Brazilian Civil Code, eliminates this responsibility, in that with the creation of a new legal personality (Samarco Mineração) a limitation is imposed on the involvement of the shareholders’ assets (Vale and BHP), in a case as the Rio Doce basin. Thus, the tragedy also signals the importance of broadening liability instruments in regards to companies and human rights violations, in order to address habitual and contumacious behaviors and operating standards that go against the rights of affected peoples and a healthy environment. At the same time, along with the ambivalence between the refusal to assume direct responsibility for the Rio Doce disaster and the rhetoric of environmental protection, Vale is not at all transparent in its engagement with the federal legislative, demonstrating its position in favor of easing environmental standards. 46 Available at: <http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mercado/2015/11/1711320-vale-sai-do-indice-de-sustentabilidade-da-bolsa-apos-tragedia-em-mg.shtml>. Access on: 03 dez. 2015. 47 Available at: <http://www.bmfbovespa.com.br/indices/ResumoIndice.aspx?Indice=ISE&idioma=pt-br>. Acesso em 06 dez. 2015. 48 Available at: <http://www.valor.com.br/empresas/4305180/acoes-da-vale-fecham-em-forte-queda-apos-acidente-na-samarco>. Acesso em 05 dez. 2015.

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33 The Bill 5807/13 before Congress that amends the Mining Code, for example, has received strong criticisms from civil society, since it aims at easing the rules for environmental licensing49. The rapporteur of the Bill in the House of Representatives, Leonardo Quintão, received R$ 1.8 million in contributions from mining companies in the 2014 elections50. Vale has, through the Pinheiro Neto law firm that represents the company in court, undemocratically and without any transparency, lobbied for the Bill 5807/13. Encrypted data showed that an attorney from the law firm wrote parts of the Bill’s draft using a computer also from the firm51. This type of strategy of large companies such as Vale, is well known to civil society organizations and social movements. While publicly and voluntarily adhering to international codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility policies, without accruing large costs or changing their logic of operation, these private entities sabotage attempts of social control over their operations and those that aim at establishing arrangements that can hold them accountable for human rights violations. To give an example, since the 1970s, the UN has failed in its attempts to reach a binding agreement on business and human rights due to the interference of companies and the use of corporate social responsibility as a viable alternative to binding obligations. Despite this unfavorable scenario for the human rights victims, there are a few attempts to effectively hold Vale and BHP Billiton accountable for the Rio Doce disaster. An example is the statement made by the Minister of the Environment, Izabella Teixeira on November 27. As widely publicized by the media, the Ministry of Environment plans, together with the governments of the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, to sue the companies in R$ 20 billion, still in the month of December, in order to repair the environmental damage caused by collapse of the Fundao dam in Mariana. The suit is to be presented by the Attorney General’s Office and the funds used to recover the damages and revitalize the areas affected by the rupture of the tailings dam, which dumped more than 50,000 tons of mud along 850 kilometers of Rio Doce in both states52.

49 See, for example, document elaborated by the Committee in Defense of Territories in the Face of Mining, from 2013. Available at: <http://www.socioambiental.org/pt-br/blog/blog-do-ppds/proposta-de-codigo-da-mineracao-do-relator-leonardo-quintao-e-um-enorme-retrocesso>. Access on: Dec. 08, 2015. 50 Available at: <http://www.socioambiental.org/pt-br/noticias-socioambientais/deputado-pede-afastamento-do-relator-do-codigo-da-mineracao>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015. 51 Available at: <http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/noticias/2015/12/151202_escritorio_mineradoras_codigo_mineracao_ rs>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015. 52 Available at: <http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/geral/noticia/2015-11/uniao-minas-gera-e-espirito-santo-vao-processar-samarco-e-vale-em-r-20-bilhoes>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015 .


34 Another possibility, suggested by law firms in the US, mentions the prospect of a class action lawsuit against the mining company Vale, citing possible violations of US securities market law and inaccuracies in the disclosure of data on business profits and risks, raising the possibility of compensation to shareholders for losses from the devaluation of the company´s shares53. As rightly affirmed a Bento Rodrigues resident, What we want, what we wanted, we will no longer have. But we should at least be as comfortable as possible. And what we want is to have our life back, to go back to our daily routine. And today we want priority because we didn’t have that before. They brought outsiders here to work, took away our resources, left us out and divided a lot of people. A lot of unemployed people saw the outsiders working there every day, doing jobs that we knew we could also easily do very well. And they left us out. That was bad for us. So much so that sometimes we would mobilize, put up barriers to not let them pass. We felt harmed. They came to get our resources and made their profits without our direct our indirect participation (Interview on Nov. 14, 2015).

Barra Longa 53 Available at: <http://www.valor.com.br/empresas/4337702/firmas-americana-e-internacional-estudam-acao-coletiva-contra-vale>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015.


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8. Evidence of environmental racism Preliminary research using data from the 2010 Census, indicates that the rupture of Samarco’s tailings dam also constituted an episode of environmental racism. The “environmental racism” concept refers to any policy, practice or directive that differently affects or harms, willingly or unwillingly, individuals, groups or communities based on motives of race or color. This idea is associated with public policy and industry practices directed at favoring companies imposing high costs to people of color [...] The question of who pays and who benefits from environmental and industrial policies is crucial in the analysis of environmental racism (BULLARD, 200554).

The aim of concept is to highlight that social and environmental disasters don´t equally affect populations. On the contrary, the risks and impacts fall hardest and more patently on the most vulnerable ethnic groups. In the case of the collapse of Samarco´s tailings dam was no different. Preliminary study conducted by Professor Luiz Jardim Wanderley, from the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ, acronym in Portuguese), explores and describes the ethnic/racial distribution of residents from Bento Rodrigues, Paracatu de Baixo, and other affected locations, according to data from the 2010 Census55. Located in the municipality of Mariana, Bento Rodrigues is part of the district of Santa Rita Durão. Bento Rodrigues is classified, by the Brazilian Institute on Geography and Statistics (IBGE, acronym in Portuguese), as an “Isolated Rural Cluster - a town” of this district. Based on the data on the total population of Bento Rodrigues (492 residents, according to the 2010 Census), and data for the rural population of Santa Rita Durão (500 residents, according to the Census), the study concludes that the rural population in the district of Santa Rita is almost equivalent to the entire population of Bento Rodrigues, the sole rural town of this area. As such, it is possible to conclude that the ethnic/ racial characteristics attributed by the Census to the rural population of Santa Rita Durão is equivalent to the ethnic/racial characteristics of the Bento Rodrigues population. Taking this into account, the study shows that 84.3% of the Bento Rodrigues population is black and brown (pardo), as classified by IBGE. The study uses similar calculations to estimate the proportion of the black population in other affected locations such as Paracatu de Baixo in the municipality of Mariana, and Gesteira in the municipality of Barra Longa. The study’s findings indicate that the impacts were more severe in areas of higher percentage of 54 BULLARD, Robert. Ética e Racismo Ambiental. Revista Eco 21, ano XV, No 98, janeiro/2005. Available at: <http://ambientes.ambientebrasil.com.br/educacao/textos_educativos/etica_e_racismo_ambiental.html>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015. 55 WANDERLEY, Luiz Jardim. Indícios de Racismo Ambiental na Tragédia de Mariana: resultados preliminares e nota técnica (Relatório Preliminar). Available at: <http://www.ufjf.br/poemas/files/2014/07/Wanderley-2015-Ind%C3%ADcios-de-Racismo-Ambiental-na-Tragédia-de-Mariana.pdf>. Access on: 08 dez. 2015.


36 black population. This population lived in the most insecure areas, most prone to risks from the mining activity, and directly suffered the impact of the rupture of the tailings dam. On a preliminary basis and based on the data presented above, there appears to be a tendency where the predominance of the black population is intensified, the higher the exposition to risky situations related to the proximity to the iron mining activities and the Samarco tailings dams. With 84.3% of blacks making up its population, Bento Rodrigues was just over 6 km from the ruptured tailings dam; Paracatu de Baixo with 80% was located just over 40 km downstream of the dam (following the course of the Gualaxo do Norte River); the town of Gesteira, approximately 62 km from the dam, 70.4% of its population is black; Longa Barra with 60.3% of blacks, is located approximately 76 km from the dam. These black communities where the ones that most suffered, above all, from the human losses and the material, symbolic and psychological impacts (WANDERLEY, 201556)

Bento Rodrigues Primary School

56 Ibidem.


9. Recommendations “What we ask for today is that they rebuild our community and give us at least some dignity” (Bento Rodrigues Resident, interview on Nov.14, 2015). The social, environmental, cultural and economic long-term impacts are still impossible to calculate, since there is no precedent for something of this scale. From the fieldwork carried out by Justiça Global´s Team and the studies available to date, it has been possible to elaborate a preliminary analysis on the responsibility of the public and private actors involved. This analysis led to the conclusion that the Rio Doce disaster was not an accident but an illegal act, caused by the irresponsibility of Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton and the State’s negligence in the environmental licensing process and its supervision. As such, Justiça Global recommends the following to the Brazilian State (public administration and human rights institutions at the federal level as well as those of the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo): Create a interagency group, equally composed of state legislatures from Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo, in addition to those of the federal government, social movements and organizations and the companies directly involved in the case, in order to adopt an Emergency Plan to ensure that the demands of the population directly affected by the rupture of the tailings dam are fulfilled, involving in particular but not exclusively: a. Immediate assistance to the populations of Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu de Baixo, devastated by the mudflow in order to immediately ensure that they have decent housing, the reconstitution of their monthly income eliminated after the tragedy, as well as integral care and monitoring of their physical and mental health; b. Immediate assistance to the populations from other districts and localities affected by the rupture of the dam, in particular but not exclusively, the districts of Gesteira, Paracatu de Cima, Pedras and Camargos, especially with regard to the reconstitution of their income and the promotion of policies aimed at supporting the recovery of farmers affected by the disaster, as well as integral care and monitoring of their physical and mental health; c. The assistance referred to above should take into account the disproportionate effects generated by racial discrimination suffered by the victims because to the disaster; d. Adequate supply and access to clean water in all of the municipalities that depend on the Rio Doce basin, contemplating not only the urban centers but also rural communities and indigenous,

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black and traditional communities settled in the region;

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e. The creation of a social development fund for the entire impacted area of the Rio Doce basin, with shared management between government and civil society; - Open up a dialogue with social movements, representatives of the affected populations, in order to facilitate the process of identification and compensation of these individuals; - Guarantee transparency in the negotiations with the companies and refrain from lowering the human rights standards in these transactions; - Stop approving Bills of Law aimed at easing the environmental licensing process that expand the rights of companies over the commons, lands and territories; - Promote the immediate establishment of an impartial and independent investigation in order to determine the actors responsible for violations, including full legal assistance to the victims; - All of the communities should receive reparation measures in accordance with national and international standards on the right to an effective remedy, including collective and integral resettlement of families living in the communities of Paracatu de Baixo and Bento Rodrigues; - Immediately assess the degree of compliance of the current environmental licenses and suspend the granting of new licenses for the Fundão, Santarém and Germano tailings dams, in accordance with Brazilian law. This assessment should be carried out by competent and impartial professionals or qualified institutions, free of charge to the victims; - Adequately inform the Rio Doce Basin population, especially those directly affected by the tragedy, on the impacts and risks to their health, through the access to information contained in the Environmental Licenses and other studies. Finally, among other recommendations, Justiça Global recommends the following to Samarco Mineração, Vale S/A and BHP Billiton: - That they strictly comply with the Brazilian Law, applicable to environmental, human and labor rights, at the national and international levels, in accordance with their obligation to respect all human rights in their activities; - Exercise due diligence, which involves taking all the necessary measures to identify, prevent and remedy the negative impacts on human rights and the environment, adopting urgent measures to remedy the impacts caused by the toxic mud in all of the communities affected by the environmental


disaster; - Adopt preventive measures, of internal control, that effectively ensure the respect for the existing environmental and human rights laws by their suppliers and customers, in accordance with national, international standards, as well as their internal policies; - Be transparent, including through the dissemination of complete and accurate information on social, environmental and corporate governance aimed to shareholders; - Refrain from any action - including legal - that aims to intimidate, discredit,criminalize or spy on people that work to defend the rights of people affected by their projects, in accordance with national and international standards for the protection of human rights defenders.

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Apoio


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