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Brazilian president says oil spills appear to be criminal

October 8, 2019 GMT
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gives a thumbs up during his arrival to the inauguration ceremony of the Brazil's new attorney general Augusto Aras, in Brasilia, Brazil, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gives a thumbs up during his arrival to the inauguration ceremony of the Brazil's new attorney general Augusto Aras, in Brasilia, Brazil, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday the oil spills that have been contaminating the northeastern coast since the beginning of September appeared to involve crimes.

“It seems that something was dumped criminally,” Bolsonaro said in Brasilia after meeting with Environment Minister Ricardo Salles.

But Bolsonaro declined to say who authorities suspect to be behind the leak. On Monday, the president said one country was on their radar.

Local authorities began investigating the oil spills on Sept. 2, when the oil sludge started to land on Brazilian shores.

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The spills have now reached 61 municipalities in nine states, contaminating more than 130 beaches, the Environment Ministry said in a statement Monday.

Roberto Castello Branco, president of state oil company Petrobras, called the spills a “very worrying disaster” on Tuesday.

“It is a very strange phenomenon, there are no signs that it is receding,” Castello Branco told members of the lower house of Congress’ mining and energy commission.

The company had helped retrieve over 130 tons of oil as of Monday night.

Petrobras analyzed several samples of spilled oil and determined it was not produced or commercialized by the company but said it came from a single source.

In the state of Sergipe, authorities declared a state of emergency and recommend people not use beaches that were contaminated.