Thursday, 19 November 2015

Biologists race to save fish from Brazil river contaminated by dam collapse

So-called Operation Noah’s Ark aims to relocate aquatic life from Doce river by moving fish in tanks provided by mining company Samarco to area lakes

Monday 16 November 2015 20.02 GMTLast modified on Monday 16 November 201520.04 GMT

Teams of biologists are rushing to rescue fish from a river that was contaminated after two dams at an iron ore mine in Brazil collapsed earlier this month, unleashing a deadly wave of mud.

Mining company Samarco said in a statement that it was providing logistical support to the so-called Operation Noah’s Ark effort aimed at saving aquatic life from the now-turbid waters of the Doce river. Experts have warned that the ecological harm caused by the 5 November breaches could last a generation.

The company, co-owned by mining giants Vale of Brazil and BHP Billiton of Australia, said in the Monday statement that it has provide six 1,000-liter tanks to house the fish removed from Doce river, as well as two trucks to transport them to area lakes.

Samarco said that it’s also helping to dig wells along the river, a water source for hundreds of thousands of people. Water utilities in towns and cities in Minas Gerais and the neighboring state of Espirito Santo have suspended siphoning water from the river as the red tide has surged upstream, killing fish, turtles and other aquatic life.

Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo newspaper reported that the Abrolhos archipelago, a system of islands and reefs that are Brazil’s main hotspots for marine life, could also be at risk from the mud tide. The archipelago is located north of where the Doce river empties into the Atlantic ocean. Depending on the winds and tides, the red stain could reach this sensitive area, which is a breeding ground for several species of endangered sea turtles and dolphins.

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