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Toxic Mud From Brazilian Dam Reaches The Atlantic Ocean

toxic mud

Toxic mud travelling down the Rio Doce river in Brazil from a collapsed dam has reached the Atlantic Ocean, amid concerns it will cause severe pollution.

Since the dam at an iron mine collapsed two weeks ago the  toxic waste has travelled more than 500km (310 miles)

The environmental disaster occurred on November 5 when a Samarco iron mine dam collapsed, releasing sixty million cubic meters of toxic waste.

Residue from the iron ore mine flooded downstream for a 100 kilometers, creating a river of toxic red mud that engulfed a nearby town.

The contaminated mud, tested by the water management authorities, was found to contain toxic substances like mercury, arsenic, chromium and manganese at levels exceeding human consumption levels.

The area of sea near the mouth of the Rio Doce is a feeding ground and a breeding location for many species of marine life including the threatened leatherback turtle, dolphins and whales

leatheback turtle

A loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) has laid her eggs about four km from the mouth of the Rio Doce about to be flooded by toxic mud

The toxic residue now threatens the turtles as well as other aquatic wildlife. The tide is expected to spread along a 5.5-mile stretch of coastline, threatening the Comboios nature reserve, one of the only regular nesting sites for the endangered leatherback turtle.

RT reports:

The deadly deluge quickly flooded villages and contaminated rivers in south-eastern Brazil, with 11 people killed and 12 others still reported missing.

Over the course of the month, the toxic waste travelled more than 500 kilometers downstream to reach the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo.

A general view the sea (L) and  Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with mud after a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd burst, as the river joins the sea on the coast of Espirito Santo in Povoacao Village, Brazil, November 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes - RTX1VA3G

A general view the sea (L) and Rio Doce (Doce River), which was flooded with toxic mud

According to estimates from biologists, it will take some 30 years to clean up the Rio Doce basin after mercury, arsenic, chromium and manganese at levels exceeding human consumption limits were discovered in the red mud.

The contamination threatens the Comboios nature reserve, which is one of the world’s few regular nesting sites for the endangered leatherback turtle.

A local fisherman working for a company contracted by Samarco mine operator, clears up dead fish found on the beach of Povoacao Village, near the mouth of Rio Doce (Doce River)

A local fisherman working for a company contracted by Samarco mine operator, clears up dead fish found on the beach of Povoacao Village, near the mouth of Rio Doce

Fish, loggerhead turtles, whales and dolphins are also in jeopardy as scientists fear the toxic water may reduce oxygen and alter pH levels in the water.