Brazilian authorities in Angra dos Reis have already demolished about 30 homes at Morro da Carioca in the center of the city. This is the part of town where 21 people died in mudslides New Year’s eve.
According to the vice mayor, Essiomar Gomes, a total of 120 homes in Morro da Carioca will be demolished.
“People see what the problem is. They saw what happened when the hillside came roaring down on homes. Some of them are helping us. They are working as volunteers with the demolition teams,” said Gomes, adding that it is essential to take advantage of the fact that the rains have halted and get as much done as quickly as possible.
It is expected that after Morro da Carioca, homes in some six other areas of risk will also be demolished. A total of around 500 homes will be torn down to ensure that no more lives are lost due to the consequences of the heavy rains that are normal in the area.
Not everyone was pleased to see their home demolished by heavy machinery operating under the orders of local authorities.
“My house is not very much. But it is the result of much hard work and a lot of sweat,” said one unhappy resident, a man who looked like he was about 40 years old.
A small protest actually halted the machines for a little while. But soon they were back at work: tearing down shacks in a slum on a hillside in the city where more than 20 people died in mudslides just as the New Year came in last week.
According to local authorities, the removal of the homes is necessary to make it easier to find more victims of the mudslides and to get people out of areas of risk so more tragedies do not occur.
“I told them that I do not have any money. No money to build another house, no money to rent something else,” said another man as his shack at Morro da Carioca crumbled under the onslaught of a bulldozer.
Eletronuclear, the state-run company that manages Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, Angra 1 and Angra 2, both located in Angra dos Reis, reports that there is no danger to the plants because of recent heavy rain and mudslides.
“Nuclear power plants require higher levels of security than ordinary construction. Therefore, Eletronuclear has made continuous and significant investments in order to ensure safety in the area surrounding the site of Brazil’s nuclear power plants, known as the Itaorna hills,” says a document released to the public by the company.
Eletronuclear also says that its emergency evacuation plans remain in place even though some highways out of Angra dos Reis have problems with mudslides. The company says it is able to assure the population that although some routes are temporarily blocked, safe alternatives exist.
On Sunday, January 3, the mayor of Angra dos Reis, Tuca Jordão, said he wanted the power plants closed down because of the possibility of a catastrophe if there was a nuclear accident with some of the planned escape routes blocked by mudslides.
The president of Eletronuclear said that technical reasons for a shutdown did not exist and that under those circumstances turning Angra 1 and 2 off would be irresponsible.
He declared that the two nuclear power plants were operating at 100% of capacity, supplying 40% of the electricity used by the state of Rio de Janeiro.