The Brumadinho Dam Rupture Disaster, Brazil 2019: Analysis of the Narratives about a Disaster from the Perspective of Disaster Law

Delton Winter Carvalho


Tailings dam failures with catastrophic consequences are, unfortunately, nothing new in our country. And yet, Disaster Law, a branch of legal practice that highlights the role of the juridical system in reducing the underlying vulnerabilities of these events, is still not widely known. Law plays a central role in the management of catastrophic events. A disaster is the result of social and physical vulnerabilities. In disasters caused by economic activities (anthropogenic or technological disasters), there is an added emphasis on technological vulnerability as a key to identify asymmetries and failures in the flow of information fundamental for the occurrence of the disaster. Based on these premises and on a narrative reconstruction methodology, this article aims to clarify the role of law in events such as this, in order to learn from destructive cycles and prevent new ones.



BINDER, D. 2002. Emergency Action Plans: A Legal and Practical Blueprint ‘Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail. University of Pittsburgh Law Review, 63:791-814.

BRANCO, M.; PONSO, F. 2017. Maior desastre ambiental do Brasil, deixou 19 mortos. O Globo. Available at Accessed on: 07.23.2018.

BRASIL. 2010a. Federal Decree n. 7.257, 08/04/2010. Available at Accessed on 02.08.2019.

BRASIL.2012b. Federal Law n. 12.608, 04/10/2012. Available at Accessed on 02.08.2019.

BRASIL. 2010c. Federal Law n. 12.334, 09/20/2010. Available at Accessed on 02.08.2019.

CARVALHO, D. W. de. 2015a. Desastres Ambientais e sua Regulação Jurídica: deveres de prevenção, resposta e compensação ambiental. São Paulo, Revista dos Tribunais, 190 p.

CARVALHO, D. W. de. 2017b. Gestão Jurídica dos Riscos Ambientais. Gestão Jurídica Ambiental. São Paulo, Revista dos Tribunais, p. 150-220.

CARVALHO, D. W. de. 2019c. The Ore Tailings Dam Rupture Disaster in Mariana, Brazil 2015: What We Have to Learn from Anthropogenic Disasters. Natural Resources Journal. 59(2):281-300.

CARVALHO, D. W. de; DAMACENA, F. D. L. 2013. Direito dos Desastres. Porto Alegre, Livraria do Advogado, 152 p.

DOUGLAS, L.; SARAT, A.; UMPHREY, M. M. 2007. A jurisprudence of catastrophe: an introduction. In: L. Douglas, A. Sarat, M. M. Umphrey, Law and catastrophe. Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1-17 pp.

FARBER, D. 2009a. Tort law in the era of climate change, Katrina, and 9/11: exploring liability for extraordinary risks. Valparaíso University Law Review, 43:1-126.

FARBER, D. 2012b. Disaster Law and Emerging Issues in Brazil. Revista de estudos constitucionais, hermenêutica e teoria do direito (RECHTD), 4(1):2-15. Doi: 10.4013/rechtd.2012.41.01

FARBER, D.; CHEN, J.; VERCHICK, R. M.; SUN, L. G. 2010. Disaster law and policy. New York, Aspen Publishers, 465 p.

IBAMA. Available at Accessed on 02.08.2019.

ICOLD/UNEP. 2001. Tailings Dams, Risk of Dangerous Occurrences: Lessons learnt from practical experiences. Bulletin 121. Paris, Commission Internationale des Grands Barrages, 144 p. Available at Accessed on 10.30.2019.

JASSANOF, S. (ed.). 1994. Learning from disaster: risk management after Bhopal. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 312 p.

KNIGHT, F. 1921. Structures and Methods for Meeting Uncertainty. In: F. Knight, Risk, uncertainty and profit. Boston, Hart, Schaffner & Marx; Houghton Mifflin Co., Chapter VII, 243-273 pp.

PHILLIPS, D. 2016. Samarco dam collapse: one year on from Brazil`s worst environmental disaster. The Guardian. Available at: Accessed on 07.23.2018.

RODRIGUES, L. 2019. Brumadinho: o que se sabe até agora sobre a tragédia. Agência Brasil. Available at Accessed on 11.02.2019.

ROSSI, A. 2019a. Tragédia em Brumadinho: Vale diz que sirenes não foram acionadas por 'velocidade' do deslizamento. BBC News – Brasil. Available at /portuguese/brasil-47063312. Accessed on 02.11.2019.

ROSSI, A. 2019b. Tragédia em Brumadinho: a funcionária da Vale que alertou sobre o desastre pelo rádio e fugiu de ré em caminhão com 90 toneladas. BBC News – Brasil. Available at Accessed on 10.10.2019.

SACONI, J. P.; VENTURA, M. 2019. Barragem de Brumadinho tinha baixo risco de acidente, mas alto potencial de danos. O Globo Brasil. Available at Accessed on: 02.09.2019.

SARAT, A.; LEZAUN, J. (Ed.). 2009. Catastrophe: law, politics, and the humanitarian impulse. Amherst, University of Massachusetts, 240 p.

SOUTO, I. 2019. Número de mortos em Brumadinho chega a 165. Estado de Minas. Available at,1029434/numero-de-mortos-em-brumadinho-chega-a-165.shtml. Accessed on 02.07.2019.

STERLING, A.; GEE, D. 2002. Science, precaution and practice. Public Health Reports, Association of Schools of Public Heath, 117:521-533.

STOCHERO, T. 2019. Vale anuncia mais duas doações, de R$ 50 mil e R$ 15 mil, a atingidos pela lama na tragédia em Brumadinho. G1 – Minas Gerais. Available at Accessed on 11.02.2019.

SUGERMAN, S. D. 2006. Roles of government in compensating disaster victims. Issues in Legal Scholarship. The Berkeley Electronic Press. Manuscript 1093:1-33.

SUNSTEIN, C. 2005. Irreversible and Catastrophic. Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. University of Chicago Law School, 88:01-67.

TOLEDO, A.; RIBEIRO, J. C. J.; THOMÉ, R. 2016. Acidentes com Barragens de Rejeitos de Mineração e o Princípio da Prevenção: de Trento (Itália) a Mariana (Brasil). Rio de Janeiro, Lumen Juris, 176 p.

VERCHICK, R. M. 2019a. (In)justiça dos desastres: a geografia da capacidade humana. In: D. Farber, D. W. de Carvalho (org.). Estudos Aprofundados em Direito dos Desastres: interfaces comparadas. Curitiba, Appris/Prismas, 59-106 pp.

VERCHICK, R. M. 2010b. Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 322 p.

VERCHICK, R. M. 2012c. Disaster Justice: The Geography of Human Capability. Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, 23:23-71.

WORLD MINE TAILINGS FAILURES. 2020a. Remembering Aznalcóllar April 25, 1998. Available at Accessed on 02.08.2019.

WORLD MINE TAILINGS FAILURES. 2020b. Available at Accessed on 02.08.2019.

Texto completo: PDF (English)

ISSN: 2175-2168 - Melhor visualizado no Mozilla Firefox

Licença Creative Commons
Este trabalho está licenciado sob uma Licença Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

São Leopoldo, RS. Av. Unisinos, 950. Bairro Cristo Rei, CEP: 93.022-000. Atendimento Unisinos +55 (51) 3591 1122

Projeto gráfico: Jully Rodrigues

SCImago Journal & Country RankCrossref Member Badge Crossref Similarity Check logo