Ross Smith, Hydrobiology and Tatiana Furley, Aplysia

The Fundão Dam Rupture Science Meeting was held from 26–27 June in Brasilia, Brazil. A total of 128 delegates attended the meeting, which had two parallel sessions on both days, a presentation by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) technical panel and a general discussion to round out the meeting on the final day. The meeting resulted in 36 manuscripts being submitted by the delegates for peer review and potential inclusion in a special issue of Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM).

Delegates at the Fundao Dam Science Meeting

The delegates celebrate the end of a successful meeting.

This was the first Focused Topic Meeting to be organized by SETAC Latin America, and the chosen topic is one of the top 20 Latin America environmental questions that needs to be researched according to the SETAC Global Horizon Scanning Project (GHSP). So, it was particularly pleasing that it was held at the Brazilian Federal Funding Agency headquarters (CAPES) and that it was such a success. The topic of the meeting, the environmental impacts and rehabilitation of the largest known tailings dam rupture, is very relevant in Brazil and has had considerable media coverage nationally and internationally in the approximately three and a half years since the incident occurred. Media coverage was revitalised this year following another Brazilian iron ore mine tailing dam collapse, which refocused attention on the impacts of the Fundão Dam rupture. However, this meeting was the first open meeting dedicated to the environmental science of the incident. Delegates appreciated the scientific focus of the meeting and contributed to vigorous discussions at the end of each session and during the general discussion. The discussion summaries on aquatic and terrestrial ecology and ecotoxicology, sediments and geomorphology, infrastructure and social impacts, and geochemistry will also be included in the IEAM special issue.

Buffet during the Fundao Dam Science Meeting

Discussions continued well into the night, assisted by drinks and a buffet.

The meeting was unusual in that all oral presenters were required to have submitted a manuscript for peer review, while poster presenters were encouraged to do so. Over the two days, 24 platforms and 49 posters were presented, providing a content rich meeting that really fuelled the discussions.

There was very strong support among the delegates to have another meeting next year because it is expected that new learned lessons will emerge. The SETAC Latin America Board of Directors is considering it. In a year that already has a biennial meeting scheduled for the geographic unit, it was great to find support for a focused topic meeting as well. Hopefully, it will be the first of many such meetings for Latin America.

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