RIO DE JANEIRO – The Samarco mine in the southeastern city of Mariana, where last November a huge toxic waste spill caused Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, has had a new spill although no victims have been reported, the company announced Wednesday.
The new landslide is of smaller proportions than the November incident and involves residues that remained at the site after the earlier spill – with 19 people confirmed dead or still missing – caused irreparable damage to the environment.
At the time of the new accident there were about 150 company workers on site who had to be evacuated, Civil Defense spokesmen said.
Samarco said that recent rains caused the new incident, adding that the avalanche did not include residue from the mining complex and did not reach the rivers in the area.
The firm emphasized that the two dikes that remain in place, known as the Germano and Santarem dams, are “stable” and are being constantly monitored.
Workers returned to the facility in early January to undertake cleanup tasks, but the mine has not received authorization to resume its production operations.
The first spill occurred when two dikes containing residue and water ruptured, causing 62 million cubic meters (2.2 billion cubic feet) of waste material to cascade out in what is considered to be the world’s worst mining residue spill in recent decades.
The avalanche wiped out seven villages, contaminated 650 km (400 mi.) of the important Doce River basin and will cost some 20 billion reais ($4.8 billion) over decades to rectify.