Oil spills reach more than 100 regions of Brazil’s coast

September 26, 2019 GMT

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s main environmental agency said Thursday it has detected 105 crude oil spills from an undetermined source polluting the waters of the country’s northeast coast this month.

The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources said state oil company Petrobras has analyzed the spills spread across eight states and determined they come from a single source. But it said the oil found in the spills isn’t produced in the South American nation.

The environmental institute didn’t describe the size of the spills, which affected 46 cities, including several touristic destinations. The beaches of Jericoacoara and Praia da Pipa were among them.


Brazilian television channels showed footage of oil slicks at sea and oil puddles along shores.

The environmental institute said it is investigating the source of the spills with the help of Petrobras workers and the fire department of the capital, Brasilia.

“So far there is no evidence of contamination of fish and crustaceans,” the institute said, though it said the spills had killed seven sea turtles.

Brazil’s environmental body urged beachgoers and fishermen to avoid the material. It said the situation is stable in the waters of the most affected state, Rio Grande do Norte. Investigators are now concentrating on the Amazon state of Maranhao, close to the border with French Guiana.

Anna Carolina Lobo, a coordinator of the marine program of the WWF conservation group in Brazil, said it is alarming that Brazilian authorities don’t know the origin of the oil spills.

“The surveillance in our waters, no matter if this was an intentional or an unintentional spill, is too fragile for a country this big,” Lobo said.

“Brazil has few boats and analysts to follow what happens in our waters,” she said.

State support for such surveillance is diminishing further under President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, according to Lobo. Bolsonaro has criticized nonprofit groups and environmental activists.