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Folha de S. Paulo, Nov. 24, 2015

Brazil is facing its greatest ecological disaster in memory after a huge wave of mud, caused by the Nov. 5 collapse of a dam at an iron ore mine, has reached the ocean, pouring its toxic waste into the Atlantic, Folha de S. Paulo reports.

The startling image on Tuesday's front page follows the destruction the 40 billions of liters of mud has left behind on its more than 600-kilometer course, along with the ecological impact on Brazil's impoverished northeast regions.

Samarco, the mining company that controlled the dam, admitted it used the dam to discard some of its toxic waste. On its way to the ocean, the brown wave reached the Rio Doce river, inflicting extensive damage to its delicate ecosystem. The disaster has killed at least 12 people, with 11 still missing.

In an interview with the BBC, Andres Ruchi, director of the Marine Biology school in the Espirito Santo state, said that "the flow of nutrients in the whole food chain in a third of the southeastern region of Brazil and half of the Southern Atlantic will be compromised for a minimum of a 100 years."

Samarco has already pledged to cover expenses up to 1 billion reais ($268 million), on top of a 250-million-real fine ($66 million), though experts say the damage will be far more costly. A Folha report also reveals that between 2011 and 2014, only 8.7% of fines issued by the federal environmental agency Ibama have actually been paid.

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