In November 2015, the failure of the Fundão tailings dam at the Samarco mine in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil resulted in severe environmental, economic and social damage, as well as 19 deaths. The tailings spill ran approximately 650 km, from the mine, through the Doce River to eventually reach the Atlantic Ocean.
Since then, Samarco, which is jointly owned (each with 50% interest) by BHP Billiton and Vale, has focused on responding to the needs of the affected communities, repairing and maintaining the existing dams, assessing the environmental and socio-economic impacts from the accident and initiating substantial remediation and compensation programs. Last year, the companies created the Renova Foundation to implement this work.
In 2016, IUCN was asked by the Renova Foundation to consider creating an Independent Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (ISTAP) that could provide technical guidance for the major restoration underway in the Rio Doce watershed. IUCN is currently designing the ISTAP and expects to formally launch the panel in 2017.
IUCN is now seeking input on the development and design of the ISTAP from relevant stakeholders, including representatives from the local communities, NGOs, government and academia in Brazil and elsewhere. IUCN will also identify the specific scientific expertise required by the Panel members, including a Panel Chair, and assist with the selection for the Panel or similar.