200 More Brazilian Dams Could Fail

Aftermath of Algodões I Dam Failure
Aftermath of Algodões I Dam Failure

In the wake of the Algodões I Dam tragedy, a specialist who works for Brazil's National Water Agency has estimated that 200 other dams could be in danger of failing.

In an article in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper today, Rogério Menescal, who has mapped 7,000 large and small dams in Brazil for the government is quoted as saying that at least 200 of these are not being maintained, and urgently need repair. Menescal cited the recent failure of a series of small dams upstream from the city of Altamira, in Pará state, which caused serious flooding in the city.

The basic problem, they say, is that Brazil has no law regulating dam safety. There have been several damaging dam failures in recent years - perhaps the best-known was the failure of the São Francisco mine waste Dam in Miraí, Minas Gerais, which resulted in spillage of 2 billion liters of toxic water affecting seven cities.

Menescal's finding was confirmed by the president of Brazil's Committee on Dams, Edilberto Maurer, who said "The projects, construction, and maintenance of dams in Brazil follow different standards. The combination of these factors leads to a lack of security".