November 30, 2020

Brazil mobilizes 5,000 Army troops to clean oil on the beaches

The Brazilian Government authorized on Monday the mobilization of 5,000 troops from the Army and three Air Force planes to clean up and contain the spill of crude oil that has been dragged along the beaches of the northeast coast of the country since last September.

After a meeting at the Ministry of Defense to assess the crisis, Brazilian Vice President General Hamilton Mourao told reporters that the troops are part of the Tenth Motorized Infantry Brigade, based in Recife, capital of the state of Pernambuco, one of those most affected by the spill.

Mourao also indicated that equipment, supplies and materials will be delivered to the Civil Defense for the work of collection and disposal of the viscous substance, from which 525 tons of waste have been collected.

At the meeting held on Monday in Brasilia with representatives of different agencies and members of the ministerial cabinet, it was determined that the Minister of Defense, General Fernando Azevedo e Silva, travels to the region on Tuesday and meets with the governors.

Before the meeting, Mourao had pointed out that the spill is "unique in the world", moving in a depth that escapes from satellites and boat crawling and only becomes visible in clear waters near the beaches, so it they have hindered containment actions by the Government.

On Friday, the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office (prosecutor's office) presented to the Court a request for the Government to act within 24 hours of the National Contingency Plan for this type of catastrophe, but a Sergipe court rejected the request and considered that the Central authorities are already acting.

Pernambuco analyzes the situation day by day and does not rule out decreeing an "emergency" situation, as did the states of Bahia and Sergipe, which ask for more effective actions by the Government and determine the origin of the oil and the causes of emptying.

According to the naval operations commander of the Navy, Admiral Leonardo Puntel, who was visiting Pernambuco, the spill originated "in the Atlantic Ocean, between 500 and 600 kilometers" from the coast and the state oil company Petrobra, which analyzed collected samples , says the crude "is not Brazilian."

The most recent balance of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama, regulator), indicates that oil residues have already reached 201 locations in 74 municipalities in all nine states of northeastern Brazil. In total, 525 tons of crude oil have been collected and discarded.

According to Ibama, oil spots have been recorded in 67 animals, of which eleven turtles, two birds and a fish have died. It is investigated whether the death of two dolphins has to do with the spill and it was ruled out that that of a whale, in the metropolitan region of Recife, was caused by the spill.

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