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Brumadinho: The tense countdown of the cities waiting for mud from Vale | Brazil

When the mining company Vale broke out on Friday, the city of Youtubaba, on the banks of the Paraobaba River, came to the alert. Located just 36 km from Brumadinho, the municipality has worked hard to prepare for the arrival of the platform, a pleasant form that some authorities and technicians call mud of ore and water that flows on the river. "We called people to take boats out of the water, and we set up a school to get rivers if we had a height of the river," said Wagner Maesty, secretary of government and environment for the city.

The concessionaire Águas de Pará de Minas reported that on Sunday (27) changes to the raw water quality standards of Paraopeba in Juatuba were identified. The change in the turbidity of the water came in the mud, but the fish, for now, continues there. "We have not seen in our region fish mortality, those found dead have come from Brumadinho," the secretary said a bit eased. Mystery states that the first analysis showed that immediately after the mudfall, the level of turbidity of the water increased from an average of 80 and 90 NTUs (nephelometric turbidity unit, the greater the turbidity) up to 130 NTU. "After the disaster in Mariania, for example, the turbidity of the River Doce reached 5,000 NTU, which shows that our situation is not alarming," he explains.

According to the Geological Survey of Brazil, the turbidity of over 2,500 NTU complicates treatment in conventional water purification plants. "We are monitoring. We know that the level of oxygen in the water has fallen, but we do not yet know the level of heavy metals," he says. Although Juatuba does not depend on Paraopeba to supply drinking water, other activities are compromised. The city has directed that river water is not used for consumption or irrigation. "It's a cascading effect. The irrigation problem mainly affects family farming, which is the main supplier of food for school meals," he says.

The tense countdown of the cities waiting for mud on Valais

With 22,000 inhabitants, Youtubaba records fishermen living on the Paraopepa River to be able to calculate the environmental and economic impacts and charge Vale. The miner said it installs retaining membranes and curtains near the city of Pará de Minas, which is in front of the Yatuubah River. "Kalta is progressing very slowly in the river grove, about 40 kilometers from the Para de Minas." It is anticipated that in 48 hours the mud will reach the city, but these curtains are very quickly installed and our expectation is that they will be enough to contain this waste and thus not allow any problems for the drainage of the river, "he said. Luciano Siani Pires, executive director of finance and investor relations, at a press conference.

The Highness assures that the municipalities understand that Vale must give priority to the rescue of victims. But the company's slowness in sharing an unplanned contingency plan for environmental disasters is worrying. "Weil promised he would late put the curtains of the claims in Pará de Minas why he did not do it soon, just outside of Brumadinho, if it's a quick action, as they themselves say?" On Wednesday, the company presented to the public ministry and environmental agencies its plan to keep trash in the Paraobaba River, which covers a total of 210 kilometers. Barriers to detention will be laid along 170 kilometers from the river.

Picture of Paraopepa, before and after the mud, in Yatuuba.
Picture of Paraopepa, before and after the mud, in Yatuuba.

Also on the way to the mud, São Jose da Varganga, with 5 thousand inhabitants, is organizing to try to alleviate the damage. Located just 90km from the site of the tragedy, the city is expected to receive the mud on Thursday. "We have organized a committee with technicians, veterinarians and environmental experts," says Vendér Paulino da Silva. The main concern is to highlight the environmental and economic impacts on producers using irrigation water, since consumption of water does not come from Paraopepa. "For now, none of Vale has come here," says the mayor.

The Brazilian river basin commands closely monitor the progress of the mud across the cities. Anivaldo Miranda, chairman of the São Francisco River Basin Committee, says there is a prospect that when water contaminated with the rejection of the dam will reach Lake Sopradinho, already in Baia, it will be diluted and should not affect the use of the river. "This is the best scenario, which suggests a practically acceptable impact, but it's too early to make predictions. If it's raining, everything can change," says Miranda. The characteristics of the Paraobepa River, for example, polar from the River Doce, as well as the characteristics of the mud, are some of the factors that can be considered positive, so the damage is not so great when the Samarco disaster in Marianne.

The forecast of the Brazilian Geological Survey is that the pen begins to arrive at the Três Marias plant, the entrance to the São Francisco River, about 300 kilometers from Brumadinho between February 5 and 10. Keeping the dam is expected to help alleviate the damage. "The speed of the water is decreasing. We were at 1 km per hour, and today we are only 0.8 km," said Miranda. He believes there is a chance that the mud will come in the way. "The San Francisco Scenario is far less endangered than previously thought, but in terms of biodiversity, losses are invaluable."

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