The collapse of a iron ore tailing dam in Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, resulted in 18 deaths and considerable environmental and social damage. In a bid to restore the region back to pre-disaster conditions, the Renova Foundation was established. To audit and monitor the delivery of programmes aimed at restoring the region run by the Foundation, the Federal Public Ministry of Brazil has hired Ramboll.
Following the breach of an iron ore tailings dam in Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, a deluge of toxic waste, around 60 million cubic meters of iron waste, flowed along the Doce River to the Atlantic ocean. The catastrophic failure of the dam resulted in the 18 deaths, as well as causing considerable damage to the regional socio-economic environment and the natural environment more generally. The disaster, which has been described as the worst environmental disaster in Brazil’s history, left deep scares on the environment and the livelihoods of regional people. The owner of the mine, and dam, Samarco, has so far agreed to pay a fine of more than $4.8 billion, although this does not include compensation to people affected by the disaster, nor the environmental cleanup process.
Damages to the regions’ socio-economic and environment have been reported as extensive. To support local communities and the wider environment affected by the disaster, the Renova Foundation was established. The not-for-profit organisation is dedicated to its mission of implementing and managing repair, restoration and reconstruction programmes within the region, which aim to, among others, restore the region’s social-economic and environment thereby re-establishing communities and resources affected by the collapse. The programmes run by the foundation are subject to constant monitoring audits and broad dissemination.
The announcement from the Federal Public Ministry of Brazil will see Ramboll tasked with ensuring that the “remediation programmes achieve the promised outcomes”, stepping in to propose additional measures required to restore the region in full, if required, within the shortest practical timeframe. As it stands there are 41 proposed programmes, 18 that address socio-environmental factors and 23 that address socio-economic factors. For the task the consulting firm will send 30 of its specialists to the region, including expertise in disaster remediation, ecology, geology, biology, and environmental and civil engineering.
Regarding the appointment, Eugenio Singer, Managing Director Ramboll’s Environment & Health practice in Brazil, remarks, "Because we have all the relevant disciplines in-house. we are uniquely positioned to conduct a detailed and critical analysis to determine not only whether the promised results can be achieved, but also whether they will meet the expectations of regulators, affected communities and the Brazilian people."