Catastrophic Failure

Catastrophic Failure

2016, Environment  -   6 Comments
Ratings: 8.88/10 from 76 users.

It all began on November 5, 2015, with the collapse of a dam near an iron-ore mine in Brazil. That's when a river of toxic sludge came bursting forth; a stew of mud and mining waste that cost more than a dozen lives, many more injuries, and widespread environmental devastation. Catastrophic Failure, a new expose produced by ABC Australia, investigates the ominous series of events which precipitated and followed this disaster.

The flood emanated from the Fundao tailings dam, which held more than 50 million meters of waste from a nearby mine operated by corporate giants BHP Billiton and Vale. After it rolled through and devastated every home and structure in its path, it flowed into the Rio Doce river, effectively destroying all fish and severely contaminating the area's water supplies. From there, the sludge eventually seeped into the Atlantic Ocean.

The film introduces us to survivors of the flood, many of whom were carried along by its brute force. They carry the burdens of their wounds, haunting memories of chaos and peril, and of their inability to save the loved ones they lost. The search continues for missing persons, and hundreds of residents remain homeless. Paradoxically, the mine served as one of the area's largest employers, therefore its closing has rendered additional economic instability to an already ravaged people.

They're not only fighting for their continued survival, but for someone to be held accountable for the biggest mining disaster in Brazilian history. To what extent should the mining corporations be held responsible for this event? Environmental activists and some investigators argue that the disaster was entirely preventable, and warning signs of impending doom were ignored. For their part, BHP and Vale have pledged their commitment to the recovery of each affected community, but have yet to claim direct responsibility. Where does the truth lie?

This devastation was caused by the collapse of just one in a trio of similar dams, and its failure has served as a precautionary prelude to what many believe is the inevitable collapse of the other two. That lends an added urgency to this powerful investigative documentary.

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6 months ago

Too many people. Each one of these "save the planet" documentaries should be about overpopulation and unreliability. This documentary is another illustration of that issue, among so many. Suddenly tons of people out of the blue take over some land taking up all the resources. What is new ? Everyone needs to thrive and prosper according to our genetics, (then abstracted to religion and economics). But while being a temporary runaway glitch, real world physical resources do not replenish at this rate. In addition, the complexity that emerge from mingling new technologies and people does not rhyme with resilience to failure. Yet in the documentary the narrator is clueless about the death of the previous civilization. We build houses of cards so fragile they tumble down. Meanwhile you can whine about the dirty beaches in Tulum, blame the smokey stacks in China, eat crickets but IPhones don't grow in trees and you are just tightening up your belt just to allow another trillion of products to enter the market; this year. We don't recognize this global cognitive dissonance as we are bound to the same destiny as those who once built the pyramids of Tulum, the same destiny as bacteria in a petri dish.

4 years ago

So far as I can tell, the only way to prevent such disasters is to require the owners and operators of any type of operation, to actually live at the most dangerous area; and their office located in and open to the most pollution generated at the operation.

Despite what some want to believe, it matters not what type of govt. It is still people running it, who have the opposite incentive than health and safety.

Even if the workers owned and ran the operation. If most of them were out of danger, and they were to choose the same or more money versus less money in their pocket if they spend for very expensive health and safety features for a few people, which would put the company in debt and make it less competitive...

Some or even many of the workers, depending on the type of people in the area, would vote for the money in their pocket rather than worrying about the other people.
And that is typically how far too many owners and operators think also.

Most industrial "accidents" (an improper name which should be "INCIDENTS") are fully preventable. The still ongoing spewing radioactive air and water effluent from Fukushima in Japan was fully preventable. Yet it will contaminate much of the world.

If we the people don't demand our own worldwide oversight of such deadly operations, then we are to blame for allowing ourselves to be polluted, and worse.

That does Not require a change to any govt, which wouldn't help much. It is us. We are the problem. We as a world of people, are too lazy. We depend on others who lie to us with agency names claiming to protect us.

Instead, we need to see to it ourselves, independent from any govt or phony UN, that we force whomever and whatever not to harm us. Be it mines, gas and oil wells, pipelines, manufacturing, building, bankster wars, etc.

We have the internet, it can easily be done, if we only choose to organize worldwide. This is what the bankster and world leaders fear most. That we don't need them. That we refuse to submit to their rotten greedy deadly schemes.

The real fear I have of that worldwide organizing, is the solution could become worse than problem. If not very careful in implementation, some rotten people would find a way to subvert it to their advantage; much like what has happened to the usa (the UN was subverted from the beginning).

No matter what type of govt, the people have to be vigilant to protect themselves FROM govt and the dangers they allow or cause. Especially those govts which claim they care and have to buy your votes with "free" stuff while trying to make themselves look better by blaming others for what they have caused.

Nothing is free. Who puts it in the mind that you deserve someone else to pay for your stuff? Those are the schemers, the manipulators, the evil plotters who desire you to be their good little cheap laborer rather than their competition in an open market.

If ALL govts truly cared about its people, there would be almost no man made disasters. No war. Very little crime. It is govts that are the problem. If you wait for them to solve a problem, they will create more while you are waiting. Gather together and solve the biggest problem, which is seeing to it wise decent honorable responsible people are elected to all offices.

Quit falling for the lies. How many years of propaganda does it take before you question it? How many guilty people never go to jail? Question EVERYTHING! The people must solve their own problems as well as those that govt caused.

6 years ago

I think both of you are right in that 1) protection of environment (and people!) cannot come at the price of entirely halting economic development and 2) some instructions or policies to keep people safe have to be implemented before the construction.

6 years ago

I think both of you are right in that 1) protection of environment (and people!) cannot come at the price of entirely halting economic development and 2) some instructions or policies to keep people safe have to be implemented before the construction.

The mining companies are winning because they make profits at the end of the day. The people are always who loses when consequences come up. However, winning for companies is short-term. Losing will be the end for everyone if no measures are taken. And I personally believe the measures could be continual (independent) media exposure, and possibly worker unions. What do you think?

I'm a rising high-school Senior in China:) and really interested in discussing environmental/social problems with others on this site.

7 years ago

Bruce. Why don't we start with safety first, and then let common sense lead the way!...because what I am hearing is that all parties involved agree that the dams failure could have been prevented?

7 years ago

Where on earth do they start? Do people and compensation come before mines and livelyhoods? They ( the mining companies) are in a no win situation, they want the mine to start up again so they can continue to make profits and they want the people to operate the mines and rebuild the dam's properly as soon as possible. Something has to give and it already did.