The oil stains that have contaminated at least 138 areas of the northeast coast of Brazil come from a "foreign ship" most likely "loaded" with Venezuelan crude, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles said Wednesday.
"That oil, most likely from Venezuela, is oil that came from a foreign ship, sailing next to the Brazilian coast," Salles said in an audience at the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia.
Since the beginning of September, tons of oil remains have reached the tourist beaches of the nine states that make up the northeastern region of Brazil, but the origin of them is still not officially known.
So far, Brazilian authorities have collected around 130 tons of crude oil – equivalent to 500 barrels of oil – in different parts of the Northeast coast, which have affected the marine ecosystem of the region.
Many turtles and birds have been found on the oil-drenched beaches, although the total environmental impact of this mysterious incident is still unknown.
A team of the state-owned Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) and members of the Navy have found oil remains at the mouth of the San Francisco River, the third largest river in the country and whose channel extends for about 3,000 kilometers .
This week, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, said that this new environmental incident "can be criminal, it can be accidental or it can be a ship that was shipwrecked", the latter the thesis defended today by his environment minister.
Investigations launched by state oil company Petrobras and the Brazilian Navy indicate that oil found on the Brazilian coast has the same composition as that extracted in Venezuela, according to the newspaper 'O Estado de Sao Paulo'.
However, it is not yet possible to affirm that all the spots have the same origin, but that a part of the material is of Venezuelan origin, according to the data obtained by that Brazilian newspaper.
This new environmental crisis in Brazil occurs shortly after the devastating fires unleashed in the Amazon, which last August were the worst in the last decade.
The flames spread over large areas of the largest rainforest in the world, which had previously been deforested, and caused a wave of international outrage at the inaction of the Bolsonaro Government, which they accuse of having an anti-ecologist rhetoric.
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