Brazilian Armed Forces Respond to Major Environmental Disaster

Brazilian Armed Forces Respond to Major Environmental Disaster

By Dialogo
December 18, 2015

We are greatly honored to know that we have specialized help in such distressing moments. It's also always ready for those who are in despair or at the end of their rope; on behalf of our brothers in pain, I would like to thank the Brazilian Army. I end suggesting that there be periodic training sessions with civilians in neighborhoods for disastrous times (fires, et c.); in the end, who will be free of it… I would like for the governments to resolve these situations. It would be interesting to better define what is being done to effectively put out the Colombian forest fire! Thank you my friend. This is the major role of the Armed Forces. The Brazilian Armed Forces are the pride of our country. This is the role of the Armed Forces in peacetime. I wanted to enlist in the Army. The Armed Forces have always been important for our nation. We are counting on them during this tough time we are experiencing in Brazil. May God bless them richly. It would be a great idea for laypeople to get to know better what the Armed Forces do during times of peace. Peace. Very insightful. Shows how important the work of the Brazilian Army is to the public. Can you all imagine then what they could collaborate on in a parliamentary system? I understand that any amount of compensation will not repair the damage caused to the Environment, Fauna, Flora, and society, all shared. I also understand that no accident exists that does not have someone or some people responsible. Somebody messed up or ought to have. Considering the scale of the disaster, various people are to blame for this entire, immeasurable tragedy. It's always good to pay attention to the news. We Brazilians need to always know what our Armed Forces are up to. It makes us proud. Tragedy without repercussions…it's regrettable, all this happening in Brazil. Responsibility was lacking on the sides of both parties. Unfortunately, who suffers is always the people. Unfortunately, as always, my comment was reported. Without cooperation and the professional capabilities of these military personnel, countries would never be able to reach their industrial, financial, and cultural goals in front of the whole world. Fighting for life.
The great contribution of a soldier for the people. I'm more at ease now that the army, with its own capabilities and technology, is functioning without rotten politics mixed in with their actions. I feel safer with regard to the future. The country appreciates the heroism of its soldiers!!! The articles are very good. Succinct, clear, and objective. Congratulations! Our Armed Forces giving their best collaboration in every way – something a sad situation requires. Congratulations to the Brazilian Armed Forces. Why not cite the name of the valley as the one responsible, it will give them work very good The disaster of the city of Mariana can't be punished. The authorities responsible ought to be punished. Young people keep on having no reason to study. I am really proud of our armed forces. Congratulations to you all. Thank you to the Armed Forces of Brazil! This service with this detailed information should be more widely distributed throughout our immense Brazil. The companies responsible ought to be obliged to conduct detailed inspections of the entire structure of these dams monthly in order to avoid such occurrences. I found the work of the Brazilian Armed Forces of great value. The rapid involvement of the Navy can be one way to know how to prevent tragedies like this in the future. Congratulations to everyone involved in helping the victims of this disaster. A warm hug. I'm here for you. Oh my goodness…the disaster in the cities of Minas Gerais was enormous. When I see the reports, I get emotional seeing hundreds of people homeless, displaced, but I hope to God all those families are going to be able to get their lost items. Congratulations. Brazil needs integration in order for us to be a first world country. Congratulations to the Brazilian Armed Forces, which went to help the people during the tragedy that affected the people of Mariana (Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo). As always happens when the Great and Powerful wreak havoc, the people are left in misery, nature is destroyed, and who has to help and ends up putting the house in order is the military, forgetting bad acts of the past. I trust in you military people. I'm a former member of the Brazilian Army Plaza of 1968 - Crateus/Ce
I congratulate the Brazilian Armed Forces for the wonderful attitude they took. At this moment, I feel completely Brazilian, capable, and am of high spirits. - I live in Tauá-Ce Also, you can't be punished for your comment. I can't understand Brazil's environmental legislation. If you should be caught smuggling an indigenous parrot, you go to prison, have to show up to environmental crime proceedings, get a fine, and have to endure impertinence for a long time. If a business causes the world's worst ecological disaster, kills more than 20 people, destroys an ancient river of over 1,000 km, contaminates the main sources of water for the whole Rio Doce valley, destroys wildlife, and a host of other environmental crimes, nothing happens. Nobody has been arrested. Samarco's and Rio Doce Valley's directors act as if it was the most natural thing in the world to cause an accident of this scale and continue treating the people with utmost indifference and irony. They don't give a hoot about the conduct adjustment program, the interviews, or the reports. One can conclude that everything is going to end trampled on. Unfortunately, this is Brazil – country of absolute impunity. The importance of the military forces is always present in difficult moments. It is an object of pride for us Brazilians. It is our strong arm. Many work in anonymity, with courage, risking their lives to save others'. Great job, warriors!!! We are saddened by this tragedy. But we Brazilians stand in solidarity. This is our nation, blessed by GOD. But my indignation remains, since one of our colleagues said there that, if they catch us with a forest bird, we'll go to jail. This responsibility now falls on those who run this mining company. Do they not know the risks? Fines are little punishment for what they allowed to happen! It is their obligation to compensate and support all the families – including with psychological support!! Thank God that we still have two Brazilian institutions that we can still trust: the Armed Forces and the Federal Police. Doing good throughout the whole planet is acceptable. Because of these efforts, humanity throughout the world is appreciative. Thank you. I'm too speechless to comment. Man doesn't have respect for Planet Earth. Wow, my goodness May GOD help each professional that has been working without holding back their efforts to honor and protect the nation. My heartiest thanks. They have my utmost respect. May they have success in all their obligations. Congratulations! Nothing is going to advance research that completely describes the environmental damages, if there is not severe and exemplary punishment. Greed becomes very substantial when people only think about material goods. The Armed Forces have worked hard and continue to collaborate in order to cope with our country's largest environmental accident. Congratulations to our Armed Forces! Congratulations to the whole team that was here, in Valadares, and throughout the whole affected area. My comment is about how we can prevent the Zika fever virus. This environmental disaster has been the worst of those here in Brazil so far. There was a huge lack of planning and no reserve area for dumping the waste. There is still no alternative for continuing to build a place where they can dump this nastiness. That is the lack of responsibility from the authorities? what can we do in order to combat the zika virus, dengue fever, and the chikungunya virus? What an embarrassment It's great for us to have deeper knowledge about the attitudes that are being taken in order to combat the worst evil that human beings are subjecting themselves to, compromising their own lives and those of the people close to them. Man is woefully submitting himself to things that will end his life, though he might be aware they will do so. - J. Pedroso How great that they're launching efforts against illegal mining I know that Mariana was devastated, congratulations to the military personnel who helped out It's a shame, first they let it happen only to later take measures. Unfortunately, this is part of life. Those responsible for this Samarco Mining Company are complying with the determination of the payment for this environmental disaster. R$20,000,0000,000.00 to compensate for the problems caused to the environment and also to reimburse the damage for all those living in the area who lost everything. our country has to safeguard more against this type of accident with dams and waste and more surveillance love of money is really destroying the peace of this planet Congratulations for the great reporting on the vessels. Man has to love the. ENVIRONMENT. UNFORTUNATELY, HUMANITY IS GOING THROUGH A TRANSFORMATION TO THE NEGATIVE SIDE. RESPECT AND IDEALS NO LONGER EXIST. TODAY, EVERYONE THINKS ABOUT THEMSELVES. MORAL AND CIVIC VALUES DO NOT EXIST ANY LONGER. A FEW YEARS AGO, RESPECT EXISTED, FAMILIES SAT AT A TABLE TOGETHER, AND FIRST THE OLDEST WERE SERVED AND AFTER THE YOUNGER ONES. TODAY, PEOPLE NO LONGER SIT AT A TABLE. IT'S EACH ONE FOR ONESELF. SO MUCH MONEY IS SPENT ON RESEARCH WITHOUT A RATIONALE – A TRUE WASTE. A COUNTRY WITH LOTS OF PEOPLE GOING HUNGRY AND UNNECESSARILY WASTING SO MUCH. I believe the Brazilian military is a very important tool in the development of a country. it'd be a great help if we had jungle guards in the forest on top of them along the borders just observing clearly in large groups supporting armies and camouflaged people if we had infrared with night vision it detects where heat is it would be of great help Prevention is more important than a cure for me. What makes me sad the most is seeing people leaving their courses to run around the world without a destination, I see destruction everywhere, I see misery crowded in alleyways and rivers made unlevel by the silt they've deposited. It's a shame, but the whole world is contaminated, since children no longer obey their parents, men want to be women, women want to be men. I think it's good for us to prepare ourselves for the worst that is to come (Prophet Isaiah tells us that the Earth is contaminated, and it's because of human beings, who have turned themselves into God's enemies.) Nowadays, the more people have, the more they want to have.

Brazil's Armed Forces responded quickly to one of the largest and worst environmental disasters in the country's history after two dams belonging to a mining company burst on November 5th, launching millions of cubic meters of mining waste through rural parts of the historic city of Mariana in the state of Minas Gerais.

Two Brazilian Army helicopters flew to the disaster area to transport victims and support search and rescue efforts. The Armed Forces also deployed hundreds of Troops to look for survivors and provide assistance to impacted communities. Meanwhile, authorities from the Military Corps of Engineers performed preliminary surveys of the devastated areas, which included identifying where makeshift bridges might be needed.

Three Brazilian Navy ships arrived at the disaster area four days after the dams collapsed: the frigate “Rademaker”; a high seas tugboat, “Trident”; and the hydro-oceanographic ship, “Vital de Oliveira”. The crews analyzed the disaster’s consequences on the regional flora and fauna and on the Rio Doce estuary, as well as its socioeconomic effects, such as the impact on the fishing industry and tourism. The Army and Navy have maintained a strong presence in the region, supporting victims and local authorities while investigating the environmental damage.

Military responds to assistance request

“The states’ governors and the National Center for Risk and Disaster Management, which is part of the National Department of Civil Protection and Defense within the Ministry of National Integration, requested the aid of the Armed Forces,” the Brazilian Ministry of Defense told Diálogo
. “The Brazilian Navy deployed a frigate, a tugboat, a search and rescue ship, a helicopter, and two vehicles, while the Army provided two helicopters, 36 vehicles, and 375 personnel” to provide support in the area.

Eight days after the disaster, Lieutenant General Mário Lúcio Alves de Araújo, the commander of the 4th Military Region (4th RM) headquartered in Belo Horizonte, ordered a regional command team to be deployed to provide relief in the city of Governador Valadares, which lacked water. Forty snipers from the local Tiro de Guerra (TG) unit assisted the Soldiers by distributing water.

The 12th Infantry Battalion's Rifle Company from Belo Horizonte also assisted municipal- and state-level Civil Defense personnel in distributing water to the residents of Governador Valadares. Together, the service members, along with federal, state, and municipal organizations, distributed about 440,000 liters of mineral water to civilians.

Meanwhile, 100 Army members also helped distribute potable water to civilians in various neighborhoods in the city of Colatina, Espírito Santo state. General Fernando Azevedo e Silva, the Army's Eastern Military Commander, and the Colonel Edson Massayuki Hiroshi, Commander of the Army's 38th Infantry Battalion, closely supervised the efforts. In addition to providing bottled water, Troops dug wells and helped maintain a sense of social order and calm.

Devastating consequences

The Armed Forces' efforts helped mitigate the dire consequences of the disaster, in which two dams belonging to Samarco Mining S.A. – controlled by the Brazilian mining company Vale and Anglo-Australian company BHP Billiton – burst, casting 50 million cubic meters of mining waste into the environment. The refuse, which is essentially trash from the mining process, is composed of water, sand, and the remains of mined ore (iron oxide). The brownish, mud-like waste is dense and sticky and has no financial value, but it must be stored under specific conditions for environmental reasons.

The sludge formed a wave of toxic mud, which buried anything and everything in its path, in addition to uprooting trees and killing fish and animals. The extent of death was not immediately determined because “the dead animals won’t float due to how dense the mud is,” according to a note from the Brazilian Institute on the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).

The flood of refuse left a trail of destruction as it wound its way through the southeastern states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. IBAMA’s preliminary report, released on December 1st, stated the toxic sludge permanently razed 1,469 hectares of land, including protected areas. The sludge wave killed 15 people in the tiny district of Bento Rodrigues in Minas Gerais, where 207 of the 251 buildings (82 percent) were buried under the massive body of water, sand, and mining debris. It also left more than 600 people homeless. As of mid-December, four residents were still missing.

Widespread environmental damage

After invading rivers, the mud traveled 663 kilometers, eventually reaching the Atlantic Ocean 16 days later. Wherever it went, the wave of sludge compromised the water quality and cut the water supply of nearby populations, affecting more than 400,000 people and causing significant social upheaval.

Rio Doce, the region's most important river, not only provided clean water, but was also the source of livelihood and sustenance for the families of the local fishermen. “The damage was so deep and perverse that it is impossible to estimate a deadline by when to expect local fauna to return and bring back the equilibrium of the basin's species,” IBAMA reported.

Of the more than 80 species of fish designated as native to the hydrographic basin before the tragedy, 11 were classified as endangered and 12 were endemic to Rio Doce. “Instant death is only one of the effects the disaster has had on aquatic organisms,” IBAMA stated. “The consequences are much more far-reaching than just the deaths of the organisms themselves. All the ecological processes responsible for producing and sustaining the richness and diversity of the Rio Doce basin have been impacted.”

Military researchers conduct studies

The Brazilian Army is studying the extent of the environmental damage. The crew of the hydro-oceanographic ship “Vital de Oliveira” used sonar technology to assess the riverbed's soil condition.

“One hundred ten Navy members and 40 subject-matter experts are analyzing water and soil samples in the lab," explained Commander Aluizio Maciel de Oliveira Júnior, commanding officer of the Vital de Oliveira, in a report published on the Brazilian Defense Ministry’s website. "We will determine whether or not there was contamination from the ore.”

Researchers from the Army's Admiral Paulo Moreira Institute of Ocean Studies and from the Federal University of Espírito Santo will also join the expedition. These teams will aid in surveys and studies to determine the oceanographic effects on the flora and fauna of the Rio Doce delta and other maritime areas adjacent to Linhares, in Espírito Santo, where the sludge entered the Atlantic Ocean. They will conduct physical, chemical, biological, geological, and environmental studies of the surrounding ocean areas.

Rodrigo Júdice, Espírito Santo's Secretary for the Environment and Water Resources, praised the Navy’s participation in the operation during a news conference on November 26th: “When the state of Espírito Santo asked for the Defense Ministry’s help, our pleas were promptly answered. The work of the Navy will help us analyze the damage caused so that we can demand the full and proper amount of due compensation from the Samarco mining company."