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Disaster capitalism writ large

Here is disaster capitalism writ large.    Huge corporations devastating and impacting on "locals" - this time in Brazil.   

"Brazil’s government has announced it will sue mining giants BHP Billiton and Vale for $US5.2bn after the deadly collapse of a dam at an iron ore mine sent 60 million cubic meters of mud and mine waste cascading into the Atlantic ocean and left more than 13 people dead.

Environment minister Izabella Teixeira said a lawsuit would be filed demanding that the companies and the mine operator Samarco, which they co-own, create a fund of 20 billion reais to pay for environmental recovery and compensation for victims.

“There was a huge impact from an environmental point of view,” Teixeira said at a press conference in the capital Brasilia.

“It is not a natural disaster. It is a disaster prompted by economic activity, but of a magnitude equivalent to those disasters created by forces of nature.”

The lawsuit will be filed on Monday, attorney general Luis Inacio Adams said.

At least 13 people died and some 11 remain missing from the flood of mud and wastewater triggered by the breaking dam at the Samarco iron ore mine near Mariana in south-eastern Brazil on 5 November."


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"Vania Somaville, director of human resources, health and safety at Vale, told a press conference that lead, arsenic, nickel and chrome had been detected at some points along the river.

However, Somaville argued that the potentially dangerous contaminants were not carried there by the wastewater from the mine.

That was in stark contrast to a report by two UN experts, which accused the corporations and the Brazilian government of failing to respond to a toxic disaster.

The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, John Knox, said the equivalent of “20,000 Olympic swimming pools of toxic mud” spewed into the Doce."


Footnote: Look out for the new book "Disaster Capitalism" by Antony Loewenstein - detailing disaster capitalism at "play" in various parts of the world.    See a review of the book, in The Guardian, here.

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