The International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) expresses its pain in the face of yet another environmental tragedy in Brazil, this time in Brumadinho, state of Minas Gerais.
This tragedy involves a tailings dam that was improperly built and managed; at this time at least 37 people are dead and hundreds are missing. This event follows three years and two months after a similar dam rupture in Mariana (also Minas Gerais) in which 19 people died and thousands were hit by the damages from the mudslides.
Both enterprises are owned by the large Brazilian company Vale. Public ineptitude in licensing private corporate entities to maintain mine waste deposits without adequate safeguards, exposing their own workers and undefended private citizens to damage and death deserve vehement denunciation and the request of correction of the course in the case of environmental licensing.
The Brumadinho dam that ruptured – merely three years and two months after the grave Mariana incident, that until today sparks controversy regarding unmet indemnification commitments – did not even have a warning siren operational in case of disaster. The rescue operations then are added to national GDP as economic “activity”.
Not only do national accounts fail to account for the pollution and natural capital depletion associated with all mining activities, the rescue operations are actually added to national GDP as economic “activity”.
This is a situation in which ISEE offers its solidarity to the victimized populations and asks that the Brazilian authorities take effective measures to enforce and improve legislation which prevents and adequately penalizes accidents, while applying the precaution principle to existing and proposed projects. Economic growth at any cost leads to much socio-environmental injustice.