A salt mine in Maceio, in northeastern Brazil, suffered a rupture on Sunday. The local population has already evacuated the area, but a total collapse risks causing an ecological disaster.
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In northeastern Brazil, a salt mine at imminent risk of collapse partially collapsed on Sunday, December 10, without risk to residents of the area who have already been evacuated, local officials said.
Residents of Maceio, the capital of Alagoas state, have been nervously monitoring petrochemical giant Braskem’s “Mine 18” since city authorities declared a high alert on November 29, warning that it was at risk of collapse. collapse and thus cause a large-scale tragedy.
“Mine 18 suffered a rupture today” in an area located along the city’s lagoon, said the mayor, Joao Henrique Caldas, on the social network “the mine and its surroundings are unoccupied and there is no risk to the population. We are gathering further information and will communicate it as soon as possible,” he added.
A video released by Brazilian media shows large brown bubbles on the surface of the water as the mine, which lies largely beneath the lagoon, ruptured.
Brazilian company Braskem said in a statement that an “atypical movement” had been detected in the mine and that it “continues to cooperate” with authorities.
The salt mine in question, which produces rock salt (used to make sodium hydroxide and PVC), is one of 35 that Braskem operates in Maceio. The company’s majority shareholder is Novonor, formerly Odebrecht.
The Brazilian construction group is accused of paying millions of dollars in bribes to numerous Latin American executives to obtain contracts.
Maceio, which has a population of one million, has seen its urban life affected since residents were forced to start evacuating the area around the mine in 2019, after cracks appeared in streets and buildings. The threatened neighborhoods where some 55,000 people lived in more than 14,000 residential buildings are now empty. Land movements around the mine accelerated its subsidence.
The mayor warned the city would face “the world’s greatest urban tragedy” if it collapsed. Environmental groups warn that such a collapse could also cause an ecological disaster for the lagoon and surrounding ecosystem.