Dear Editor,

Remember that Aquila’s first partner was American Copper & Nickel (INCO) which became part of Vale. Vale was finally paid off in 2015 by Aquila for mineral rights claims they bought (Vale “invested” $4.9 million) from Aquila that Aquila did not own.

Could be Menominee County’s fate as well? 

The dam failure in Brazil in perspective:

The unfortunate mining tailing’s dam failure in Brazil is not the first for Vale. So far the Brazil news agencies report that no survivors have been found in the area of the dam burst since Saturday, indicating the death toll could rise to as many as 360 people, which would make it Brazil’s deadliest-ever mining accident. The Paraopeba flows into the much larger Sao Francisco River. Hundreds of municipalities and larger cities such as Petrolina, 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) from Brumadinho, get drinking water from the Sao Francisco. Federal agencies also said firefighters who have been in contact with the mine waste, called tailings, should take safety precautions.

In 2015 in the city of Mariana, which like Brumadinho is in Minas Gerais state in southeastern Brazil a collapse of a larger reservoir, jointly operated by Vale and BHP Billiton, killed 19 people and thousands of fish and left 250,000 people without drinking water. Three years later, water in the Doce River is still unfit for consumption, environmental experts say, as small residues of iron oxide have fallen at the bottom of the riverbed and are brought up to the surface each time it rains heavily.

SOS Mata Atlantica and other experts who studied the Mariana disaster say the similarities between the dam failures are very strong. “Even if they remove most of the mud, of this toxic waste, residues will remain for a long time, maintaining the river’s level of contamination, and compromising the return of life.” Local civil society groups say this is no accident and that mining giant Vale should be prosecuted. Brazilian authorities arrested five people Tuesday in connection with the dam failure, three of whom worked with Vale, two others were employees of a German company that inspected the dam.

My opinion: Michigan should implement laws that allow for the criminal prosecution of persons who permit a tailings dam that leaks or fails causing pollution as upstream tailings dams are notorious for failing as unfortunately again as seen by the mine dam failure in Brazil.


Tom Boerner

Lake Township