Strengths and weaknesses of a hybrid post-disaster management approach: the Doce River (Brazil) mine-tailing dam burst

Ana Lima, Felipe Bastos, Fernando Teubner Junior, Renato Neto, Andrew Cooper, Gilberto Barroso

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Abstract

Mine-tailing dam bursts occur frequently with attendant implications for the environment and human populations. Institutional preparedness for such events plays an important role in their lasting impact. This study analyzes the stakeholder engagement in the new governance framework created to recover the Doce River ecosystem following the 2015 disaster, where 34 million m3 of tailings were released, killing 19 people and causing massive impacts on riverine life. Following the disaster, poorly conceived political and management decisions impeded and continue to impede the progress of ecosystem recovery. The post-event management structure shows a centralized and poorly diverse stakeholder pool. We conclude that poor governance structure, and weak law enforcement, are among the main reasons preventing the Doce River post-disaster watershed recovery. A watershed vulnerability analysis combining dam stability and socioeconomic data, concluded that low ratings of socioeconomic performance substantially increase basin vulnerability. We recommend that the watershed committee should be fully involved in the implementation of the program and take a central role so that the most vulnerable communities (including indigenous people) take ownership of ecosystem recovery.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Management
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2020

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Keywords

  • Doce River
  • Environmental policy and governance
  • Impoundment failure
  • Mining industry
  • Tailing pond

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