Arsenic And Mercury Found In River After Brazil Dam Burst

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The report, released on IGAM’s website after pressure from prosecutors, appears to contradict claims by the companies responsible for the mine. Samarco, the mine operator, and its co-owners, BHP Billiton and Vale, have repeatedly said the water and mineral waste unleashed by the dam burst were not toxic. Samarco said in a statement on Thursday that their own tests showed the mine waste in the dam – known as tailings – did not pose any harm to humans.

On Wednesday, the United Nations human rights agency said new evidence showed that the mud “contained high levels of toxic heavy metals and other chemicals”, without specifying what the chemicals were or where the evidence came from.

Due to two dam breaks, thanks to the mining companies BHP Billiton and Vale, a deadly sludge has flooded the area and poisoned the River Doce killing everything in it including the livelihoods of local fisherman. People have also been left homeless and no longer have access to potable water. Please make a Christmas donation to help deal with the nightmare of consequences caused by the dam breaks.

Tommasi Laboratorio, a company hired by Espirito Santo’s environmental agency to do tests on the water, said it had also found arsenic above legal levels, but that quantities had fallen in recent days. “It’s arsenic that wasn’t there before the dam burst,” said lab owner Bruno Tommasi. He said his tests had found no mercury or uranium and also urged caution about how to interpret the arsenic results. “Different types of arsenic cause varying levels of harm and our tests did not specify what type of arsenic was in the water,” he said.

Biologists working along the river and coastline have been shocked by the impact of the dam burst. The mud has killed thousands of fish, but BHP said they most likely choked to death on the sheer volume of sediment released by the dam, rather than the chemical composition of the sludge.

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