Red Sludge From Brazilian Dam Collapse Reaches the Atlantic

Earlier this month, on November 5, two dams retaining tons of iron-mining waste near the Brazilian town of Bento Rodrigues burst, releasing a massive flood of thick, red toxic mud that flattened buildings and trees, smothered the small town, and left at least six dead. The wave of toxic sludge—tested and found to contain high levels of mercury and arsenic, according to a BBC report—then moved downstream, into the Rio Doce (Doce River), and spent two weeks making its way several hundred miles downstream, finally reaching the Atlantic Ocean. According to Reuters: “Scientists say the sediment, which may contain chemicals used by the mine to reduce iron ore impurities, could alter the course of streams as they harden, reduce oxygen levels in the water and diminish the fertility of riverbanks and farmland where floodwater passed.”
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