Another two Brazil dams ‘at risk of collapsing’

BBC News, 11/17/2015

Brazilian mining company Samarco says two dams it uses to hold waste water from iron production are damaged and at risk of collapsing.

One of the company’s reservoirs burst earlier this month, flooding dozens of homes in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais.
Eleven people were killed and 12 are missing presumed dead.

Emergency work to try to avoid another breach will begin immediately and will last up to 90 days, the company said.
The company initially said that two of its dams – Fundao and Germano – had burst on 5 November.

Read more…

TIAA-CREF, U.S. investment giant, accused of land grabs in Brazil

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 11/16/2015

As an American investment giant that manages the retirement savings of millions of university administrators, public school teachers and others, TIAA-CREF prides itself on upholding socially responsible values, even celebrating its role in drafting United Nations principles for buying farmland that promote transparency, environmental sustainability and respect for land rights.

But documents show that TIAA-CREF’s forays into the Brazilian agricultural frontier may have gone in another direction.

The American financial giant and its Brazilian partners have plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into farmland deals in the cerrado, a huge region on the edge of the Amazon rain forest where wooded savannas are being razed to make way for agricultural expansion, fueling environmental concerns.

Read more…

Brazil mining flood could devastate environment for years

Stephen Eisenhammer – Reuters, 11/15/2015

The collapse of two dams at a Brazilian mine has cut off drinking water for quarter of a million people and saturated waterways downstream with dense orange sediment that could wreck the ecosystem for years to come.

Nine people were killed, 19 are still listed as missing and 500 people were displaced from their homes when the dams burst at an iron ore mine in southeastern Brazil on Nov. 5.

The sheer volume of water disgorged by the dams and laden with mineral waste across nearly 500 km is staggering: 60 million cubic meters, the equivalent of 25,000 Olympic swimming pools or the volume carried by about 187 oil tankers.

Read more…

Brazil dams burst: ‘Hopes of finding survivors fading’

BBC News, 11/9/2015

A huge wall of red sludge descended on the south-eastern village of Bento Rodrigues when two dams holding waste water from an iron ore mine collapsed. Hundreds of rescue workers continue to search for 26 people who are missing feared dead.

The authorities have confirmed the death of one person.
Two other bodies have been retrieved, but officials are not sure whether their deaths were connected to the breach of the dams on Thursday afternoon.

They will carry out DNA tests to check if they are related to the 13 mine workers and 13 residents, including five children, who are missing.

Read more…

The claims are rosy, but Brazil’s rain forest is still disappearing

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro – NPR, 11/6/2015

Brazil isn’t lying to the world about how bad deforestation is in the Amazon. But it is, according to the very people employed by the government to protect the rainforest, “misleading” the international community.

According to the government figures, the rate of deforestation is down dramatically over the past decade. And there’s a general consensus this is true. But critics say the numbers don’t tell the whole story because so much of the Amazon has already been damaged or destroyed. And the country is still losing about 2,000 square miles of jungle each year.

The problem is Brazil’s Amazon region has a dual identity. On the one hand, it is sovereign Brazilian territory. On the other, the world claims it as something vital for all of humanity.

Read more…

Brazil has battled for decades to halt the Amazon’s destruction

Nacho Doce – Reuters, 11/5/2015

In December this year the U.N. Climate Conference takes place in Paris. Ahead of the summit, we will release a series of stories, titled “Earthprints,” that show the ability of humans to change the landscape of the planet. From sprawling urban growth to the construction of new islands, each site has profoundly changed in the last 30 years. Each story has accompanying NASA satellite images that show the scale of the change. (here)

In international talks over global climate policy, Brazil’s government has declared time and again a goal that environmental activists scoff at: eliminating illegal deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

They scoff because environmentalists believe that Brazil, as guardian of the world’s largest rainforest, should be more ambitious. Eliminating illegal activity, after all, amounts to nothing more than enforcing the law.

Read more…

The Amazon drained forest: Incredible pictures show devastating effect of drought ravishing Brazil in area’s worst dry spell for 100 years

Tom Wyke – DailyMail, 10/25/2015

The Amazon river has long been crucial part of the daily lives of thousands of Brazilians living in the remote stretches of the rainforest but now communities have been left devastated after the country suffered its worst drought in 100 years.

A vital water source for numerous lakes and streams, the Amazonian drought has been revealed with photos showing miles of dry, cracked riverbeds from where the water used to flow. Boats have been left stranded in the Puaquequarauna lake, due the low levels of the Rio Negro, near the Amazonian city of Manaus. There, houses sit isolated in the middle of the large deserted landscape, with only small pools of water remaining for locals to live off.

The crisis has left the Rio Negro, a crucial tributary of the Amazon River, in ruin. Now, whole communities face a battle to rebuild their lives. The shocking drought comes just a few months after the same region suffered bad flooding after a deluge of rain left several cities in states of emergency.

Read more…