The Vale dam collapse which occurred last week likely occurred due to portions of the sand and dried-mud structure dissolving into a liquid, according to a state regulator on Friday.

There are at least 110 people confirmed dead while more than 230 people are still missing, according to a firefighters' count on Thursday night, which would make it the deadliest mine disaster in Brazil.

The burst tailings dam at the Corrego de Feijao mine collapsed directly over the town of Brumadinho and has ignited public anger against the mining company Vale, who was also co-owner of the Smarco mine which collapsed in 2015.

An internal study revealed the mining company knew as recently as last year some areas hit were at risk if the tailing dam burst, according to the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, though Vale said the study was only a routine disaster preparation plan as required by Brazilian regulators.

The disaster is one of the first major challenges facing far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who only took office a few weeks ago, but has been promising to curb regulations for industry and agribusiness.

Hildebrando Neto, deputy minister for environmental regulations in the state of Minas Gerais where the collapsed dam is based, told Reuters the current evidence suggests the dam burst was caused by liquefaction.

Liquefaction is a process where solid material, such as sand, loses strength and stiffness over time and starts to behave more like a liquid.

Neto said that was the cause of the 2015 collapse of the Smarco dam, which killed 19 people.

The internal study published by the Folha newspaper was from April 2018 and detailed the likely impact if the dam were to collapse.

The study said sirens would alert workers if the dam burst, but the company admitted last week the mudflow destroyed the sirens before they could warn the employees and locals in the nearby town.

Vale released a statement which said the plan was “built on the basis of technical studies of hypothetical scenarios in the event of a breach.”

Officials with the Mines and Energy Ministry and the National Mining Agency (ANM) said the cause of the current collapse was still unclear and that Vale submitted documentation that indicated it was still stable.

“If we had known (what the problem was), maybe this tragedy would have never happened,” The ministry’s mining secretary Alexandre Vidigal said. “We are in the investigation phase and we cannot say whether the (inspection) model was adequate or not.”

Vale also announced the plans for dealing with the massive amount of debris unleashed into the area after the collapse.

They would build barriers to contain the mud in the area around the dam collapse, dredge a section of the nearby river, and construct barriers to sift out any fine residue.

"It isn't just mud there, it's people's families. Everything will depend on how rescue efforts go. And it will take a long time," said Anderson Amparo, from Brazil's Environmental Protection Agency (Ibama).

Amparo also said even if authorities were confident there were no more bodies buried in the mud, it would not need to be cleared entirely.

"In some areas it is best to plant over the land to restore it to its original use, whether it be agriculture or forest," Amparo said.

But Miguel Felippe, a professor of geoscience at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, said it's unclear if the mud itself is toxic, but there is some environmental damage that will come from the disaster.

"This debris is very likely to contain harmful chemical substances," he said. "Even if there are no traces of heavy metals, which are the most worrisome, like arsenic, there are others which are sure to be there and will float downstream, as the mud has already reached a river, so, environmentally speaking, it would be best to remove the material."

The tailings of the mine could contain traces of nickel, magnesium, cadmium, iron oxide, ammonia, silica, silt, clay, mercury and arsenic, explainedBráulio Magalhães Fonseca, a geologist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.

But the level of toxicity depends on the concentration of those substances.

-WN.com, Maureen Foody

Photo: AP / Victor R. Caivano
An activists covered in mud poses with a sign that reads
Photo: AP / Andre Penner
Photo: AP / Andre Penner
Policemen and rescue personnel work in a blocked road after a dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Brazil, added: 2019-01-27
comments powered by Disqus

Related News

The Latest: Workers from Brazilian, German firms detained

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — The Latest on the deadly collapse of a dam at a Brazil iron ore mining collapse (all times local): 1:15 p.m. A German company involved in the...

Wtop 2019-01-29

Report: Vale Knew Deadly Dam Had Heightened Risk of Collapse

Vale SA, the world's largest iron ore miner, knew last year that the dam in Brazil that collapsed in January and killed at least 165 people had a heightened risk of...

Voa News 2019-02-12

Brazilian Mining Firm CEO Says Safety Measures Haven't Worked

Brazilian miner Vale’s safety procedures have not worked , the company’s chief executive said on Thursday, responding to questions from lawmakers after one of the company’s...

WorldNews.com 2019-02-15

Mining giant Vale denies previous knowledge of risk in ruptured dam

RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Mining giant Vale denied having previous knowledge of any collapse risk with its collapsed tailings dam in Brazil on Tuesday. In a press...

Xinhua 2019-02-13

The Latest: Arrested dam workers detained for 30 days

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — The Latest on the deadly collapse of a dam at a Brazil iron ore mining collapse (all times local): 2:30 p.m. Authorities say five workers involved...

News & Record 2019-01-29

The Latest: Dead mining firm worker's widow sobs at cemetery

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — The Latest on the deadly collapse of a dam at a Brazil iron ore mining collapse (all times local): 2:30 p.m. Authorities say five workers involved...

Waco Tribune-Herald 2019-01-29

The Latest: Vale shares up slightly after tanking hard

BRUMADINHO, Brazil (AP) — The Latest on the deadly collapse of a dam at a Brazil iron ore mining collapse (all times local): 2:15 p.m. At a cemetery in the small Brazilian...

Beatrice Daily Sun 2019-01-29
developed with YouTube
Terrifying moment of Brazil dam collapse caught on camera

Terrifying moment of Brazil dam collapse caught on camera

A video aired on Brazilian media shows the exact moment a dam burst in Brazil on 25 January. The dam break at an iron ore mining complex operated by the minerals firm Vale killed at least 65 people. A further 279 are missing. Cars can be seen driving around desperately trying to escape as a dramatic
"Shocking" Moment of 2019 Minas Gerais, Brazil Dam Failure / Collapse

"Shocking" Moment of 2019 Minas Gerais, Brazil Dam Failure / Collapse

- Morning D.E.W. Daily Events Worldwide This is a channel for the masses. . SCROLL DOWN TO THE COMMENT SECTION AND SAY H
New video captures moment of deadly dam collapse in Brazil

New video captures moment of deadly dam collapse in Brazil

At least 115 people dead and around 250 missing in what could be the country\'s deadliest mine disaster. … READ MORE : https://www.euronews.com/2019/02/02/new-video-captures-moment-of-deadly-dam-collapse-in-brazil What are the top stories today? Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=
Brazil dam collapse: Terrifying moment caught on camera

Brazil dam collapse: Terrifying moment caught on camera

A video released Friday shows the exact moment a deadly dam burst in Brazil on January 25. The wall of sludge and mud from the dam is seen encroaching from the left side of the screen as vehicles move around on the right side but they are eventually covered by the mud. The dam failure unleashed a su
'How I survived the Brazil dam collapse' - BBC News

'How I survived the Brazil dam collapse' - BBC News

What do you do when you see a huge mudslide coming and there\'s nowhere to go? Elias Nunes gives a first-hand account of how he and his colleague survived the Brumadinho dam\'s collapse. Please subscribe HERE http://bit.ly/1rbfUog
Brazil dam break: Another Vale dam at risk of bursting

Brazil dam break: Another Vale dam at risk of bursting

Rescue teams have suspended their search for survivors of a mining dam collapse near the town of Brunadinho in southeastern Brazil amid fears that another nearby dam could burst. The death toll from the collapsed dam has risen to at least 37, with around 300 people still missing. It is still unclear
Hundreds Missing In Mud Torrent After Brazil Dam Burst | NBC News

Hundreds Missing In Mud Torrent After Brazil Dam Burst | NBC News

The dam was part of an iron ore mine owned by Vale SA in Minas Gerais state, south east Brazil. » Subscribe to NBC News: http://nbcnews.to/SubscribeToNBC » Watch more NBC video: http://bit.ly/MoreNBCNews NBC News is a leading source of global news and information. Here you will find clips from NBC
Brazil Vale Mining Dam Failure 28 Jan 2019

Brazil Vale Mining Dam Failure 28 Jan 2019

What we know so far.