Tue. Mar 9th, 2021

The waters of Rio Doce still run a murky reddish-brown just meters away from Adomilson Costa de Souza’s home. Until five years ago, the river was a source of  his food and income. Now, it is a daily reminder of the disaster that changed his life. “I always lived off of Rio Doce,” de Souza said. “Whatever fish I caught, I sold at my doorstep.” Most months, he netted about 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of fish, selling his catch to customers  from hundreds of kilometers around. Beside the river, he raised animals and cultivated banana trees. Most of his neighbors in the village of Pedra Corrida in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais lived in much the same way. “For us, who were born here, living alongside the river, the river was everything,” de Souza said. “Then everything came to an end with the tragedy.” Five years ago this month, millions of tons of toxic sludge gushed from a collapsed iron mining waste dam 300 kilometers (186 miles) upstream from Pedra Corrida. The industrial disaster killed 19 people in the village of Bento Rodrigues, burying them in toxic mud, and adversely affected 39 municipalities across two states. The mining waste eventually flowed more than 650 kilometers (400 miles) from its source to the Atlantic Ocean     . Today, the calamity is considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, with responsibility for the dam failure falling squarely on the Samarco mining company, a joint venture of Brazil’s Vale and Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton — two…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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