Urban mining transforms the surrounding areas of Brazil into ghost towns

MACEIO, BRAZIL – This part of Macy’s, the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Alagos, was buzzing with the sounds of cars, commerce and children’s play. It became silent when residents were eager to escape the devastating destruction of their homes, which were cracking and crumbling.

Beneath their floors, the surface was filled with dozens of cavities: a legacy of four decades of rock salt mining in five urban neighborhoods. This causes the topsoil to settle and the topsoil to begin to separate. Since 2020, communities have become empty as thousands of residents have received payments to relocate petrochemical companies from Braskam.

There are some holdouts left, some of which have told the Associated Press that they imagine the soil beneath their feet is like Swiss cheese. Nevertheless, Paolo Sergio Doe, 51, says he will never leave his home in the Pinheiro neighborhood where he grew up.

“The company can’t force what it wants to do overnight with so many family lives and histories,” he said in an interview outside his home.

Braschem is one of the largest petrochemical companies in America, owned primarily by the Brazilian state-owned oil company Petrobras and construction giant Novonor, formerly known as Odebrecht.

The company is not forcibly evicting anyone, although those who still say so here feel that way. It has reached an agreement with prosecutors and public defenders to compensate the families so they can evict and start elsewhere. According to Braschem’s calculations, 97.4% of affected homes – more than 14,000 – are now vacant, the company said in its 2021 earnings call on Thursday.

55,000 refugees have lost not only neighbors and friends but also jobs; 4,500 mostly small- and medium-sized businesses that held 30,000 people closed, according to a survey published last year by The Federal University of Alagos. The businesses included a local supermarket and a ballet school that had been operating for 38 years, according to Adriana Capretz, as part of the university’s work group to monitor the surrounding area.

The exit is clear from above; The evacuating residents recovered everything they could sell for extra cash, including their roof tiles. Their removal allows uninterrupted view between the once occupied spaces.

The amount that Braschem offered for Natalia Gonsalves was not enough. The retired teacher, 77, added that she was feeling too old to start anew. So he saw everyone in Pinheiro leave him. Now he lives inside a makeshift fortress behind boards and trees aimed at deterring thieves. Braschem security guards round up on motorcycles, briefly interrupting the terrifying silence of the evening.

“They have already done everything to force me to leave, but I have a right,” he said from behind the back of his home castle. “I am scared, especially at night when no one is around. The light is dim, hardly any. I protect myself with my plants, but I am alone, with God. “

Braskem has so far disbursed about 40% of the বিল 5 billion (approximately $ 1 billion) that it has set aside to relocate, compensate individuals, including residents and local employees, and relocate facilities such as schools and hospitals, the company said in a statement. Earnings call. This indicates a further 6 billion races for the closure and monitoring of salt mines as well as social, environmental and urban measures.

Concluding the call, Braschem CEO Roberto Lopez highlighted the year of the Pontes Simoes company, which relocated almost everyone in the neighborhood, including “All our progress at Masio.”

No house was destroyed, no one was killed. This does not mean that heartache was avoided, says Capratz, a professor at the university’s School of Architecture and Urbanism.

“Tragedy is happening, not just because of geological events, primarily because there are cases of people who have committed suicide, many who have fallen ill with depression, lost their social life, family ties, friends and neighbors,” Capretz said. I walked through Bebeduro neighborhood. “None of this is being considered by Braschem.”

The company’s press office, in its long answer to the AP question, said it provides free psychological counseling to any resident participating in the compensation and relocation program. It said the program was based on laws and legal judgments in similar cases and said compensation offers were always presented to individuals, including their lawyers or public defenders.

But discussion can be clouded by emotion; The price of a house is not the same as the price of a house.

Queteria Maria da Silva, 64, and her grandson were waiting for the rest of their family to come to play Domino at a table they had placed under the only lamppost in their street, which is still in operation. Although Da Silva said he would step down to pay Braskem for his request, he hesitated:

“I’ve always been home and now, if I had to leave, where would I go?” ——— AP Reporter David Biller contributes from Rio de Janeiro

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