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Two months and Brazil still clueless on oil spill

Mateus Morbeck/AFP

Volunteers remove oil at Praia de Busca Vida beach in Camacari, Brazil on Nov. 3.

- Crude oil has been washing up on coastline since August
- Defense Minister Azevedo calls situation ‘unprecedented'

By Simone Preissler Iglesias / Bloomberg

Petroleumworld 11 05 2019

Brazil's government doesn't yet know how much oil has been spilled on the Atlantic ocean.

The oil, which began washing up along Brazil's coast in August, has hit over 300 beaches in nine states of Northeast, many of them popular tourist spots. Over the weekend, the crude arrived at the Abrolhos marine park , known for its vast biodiversity and where humpback whales migrate to breed.

“This is an unprecedented situation,” Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo said in a press conference Monday. “A disaster like that never happened in Brazil or any country with this kind of oil. We don't know how much oil is spilled and what's to come.”

So far 4,000 tons of oil have been removed from the sea, officials at the press conference said. Because the crude is heavier, it doesn't float above the surface of the water, making it harder to spot before it washes up on the shore and complicating clean up efforts.

Officials told journalists an investigation indicates that the oil comes from Venezuela and sailed through Brazil on a Greek ship. Brazilian authorities requested Interpol's support to investigate the company, which was first mentioned by police on Friday.

Over the weekend, President Jair Bolsonaro declared that the “worst is yet to come” and that the spill “was criminal,” without giving further details. The Navy and Federal Police met with Bolsonaro earlier today to brief him on the situation.

Story by Simone Preissler Iglesias from Bloomberg. / 11 04 2019


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