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The oil darkened the sea of one of the most beautiful regions of Brazil. In some beaches, the product is removed from the water and reappears days later.
Two months ago, Brazilians have been witnessing the biggest oil spill disaster in terms of coast extension. More than 2,000 of the 8,500 kilometers that make up the Brazilian coast were hit. The dark spot has reached more than 200 beaches in the nine states of the Northeast. Beaches that are some of the most beautiful postcards in the country, such as Carneiros, in Pernambuco, and Boipeba, in Bahia, were contaminated with oil.
The images are sad and expose a reality that has no date yet to be mitigated. As expected, the material has caused serious damage to the environment. According to Petrobras President Roberto Castello Branco, the oil spill is “the biggest environmental aggression suffered by our country in our history”.
Below are some images that reflect the current scenario from part of Northeastern Brazil.
The first oil stains appeared on Pernambuco and Paraíba beaches between the last days of August and the first of September. The origin or amount of oil spilled into the sea was unknown. So far, information is still scarce. And, precisely, this lack of knowledge about the origin of the problem has caused the work of removing the material to run into barriers.
After studies by Petrobras, which has been helping the environmental institute Ibama, it was identified that the product is crude oil. This means that it is not derived from oil and would come from Venezuela, according to information from Petrobras.
There are some hypotheses under analysis to identify what occurred. Ships and foreign vessels and ghosts that passed by the Brazilian coast are under investigation.
Pirate ships sail with location system off, which prevents identification. Venezuela is accused of using this type of device to circumvent the US oil embargo. The neighbouring government, however, denies its relationship with the disaster in Brazilian waters.
According to the president of Ibama, Eduardo Bim, there is still the possibility that the material was leaked in a transfer from one ship to another. “But we have to investigate and we don’t rule out any possible cause,” Bim said at a Senate hearing.
One of the actions taken to contain the oil was to place containment buoys at sea. There is fear that the oil will especially hit the Abrolhos National Park in Bahia, where the country’s main coral banks are located. There are endangered species, such as the Millepora, known as fire coral, and rare as the Hispid Mussismilia, brain coral.
The oil removal work, however, has been done primarily by Ibama volunteers, residents and staff. Last week, the federal government decided to integrate the Armed Forces into the work .
According to Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, there was no delay from the government in entering the case. “Everyone has been working around the clock since the spot appeared on September 2. No effort was spared, ”he said.
The minister, however, has taken advantage of the situation to criticize NGOs and Venezuela, a country with which the Brazilian government has no political affinity. Salles said that by the time there was a “Venezuelan oil spill,” a Greenpeace ship would be “sailing in international waters off the Brazilian coast.”
Greenpeace reacted. He said he would bring the case to court and argued that his ship has no oil storage capacity.
Greenpeace, in fact, is one of the entities that have volunteered to help remove the material and have been pushing the Brazilian government for a more energetic attitude. At HuffPost, the coordinator of Greenpeace’s climate and energy campaign, Ricardo Baitelo, detailed the difficulties with the oil and the main environmental impacts.
“The oil is sprayed. It is divided into several points and you cannot see it from the surface. You can only see when the smallest spots start to reach the beaches. They are coming and keep coming. In Maranhão, you clean and he [oil] comes back. It’s a huge challenge. ”According to him, there is monitoring information, but it is not conclusive. There are also reports from fishermen that the spots are still approaching.
When he granted the interview last week, Baitelo warned that volunteers were beginning to experience the toxic effects of the oil. “But there is the issue of using the right equipment. The oil is toxic and there is already news of people with malaise, feeling sick. Who depends on the sea is desperate and there are people doing volunteer work anyway. We can’t just depend on the government. It’s a problem that can drag on for a long time, ”he said.
Over the weekend, more reports of intoxication appeared. To Reuters, civil servant Vera Lúcia Silva reported that she was ill after collecting oil with her hands in plastic bags on Itapuama beach in southern Recife. “A lot of headache, nausea and diarrhea. I went to the [health] clinic, took a serum and got better, but I still have a headache. ”
And what is not lacking is material to be removed. Still in Pernambuco, last week alone 958 tons of oil were removed from the sea. The federal government has been calling for help from coastal residents to call 185, the marine emergency telephone, if they see oil on the beach.
The Navy has reaffirmed that “the extent of the affected area, the length of time and the oil dispersal characteristics of this unprecedented environmental crime in the country require constant evaluation of the structure and resources employed.”
Source: Huffpost Brasil