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Source of Vast Oil Spill Covering Brazil's Northeast Coast Unknown

Energy

Brazil's main environmental agency said on Thursday the source of a sprawling oil spill along the northeast coast remains unknown, but that the crude oil was not produced in the country.


The spill stretches over 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) of Brazil's northeast coast, affecting 46 cities and around one hundred of the country's nicest beaches since being first detected on Sept. 2.

Brazilian television has shown slicks at sea and oil puddles along shores, as well as turtles covered in black tar. Other marine life has also been found dead.

The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, Ibama, said state oil company Petrobras analyzed the spill and determined it came from a single source.

However, it said, a molecular analysis of the crude showed that it was not produced in Brazil, the world's 9th largest crude producer at 3.43 million barrels a day.

Petrobras reported that "the oil found is not produced by Brazil. Ibama requested support from Petrobras to work on beach cleaning. In the coming days, the company will make available a contingent of about 100 people," the environmental institute announced in a statement.

Extent of Damage

The tests were done at the Petrobras Research Center (Cenpes) in Rio de Janeiro.

So far, 105 crude oil spills have been detected.

Since the beginning of September, Ibama, together with the Federal District Fire Department, Brazil's navy and Petrobras, have been investigating the causes.

Ninety-nine locations in 46 municipalities in 8 states have been affected, including Maranhão, Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe. In the Northeast, only the state of Bahia has not been affected yet.

Authorities were still conducting cleaning procedures on the Potiguar coast earlier this week.

"Analysts on the monitoring team concluded that the situation in the state is stable so far," the institute wrote.

Who Is at Risk

Ibama stated that to date, "there is no evidence of the contamination of fish and shellfish" but warned that bathers and fishermen should not have contact with oil.

Authorities also said that anyone who discovers suspicious items in the sea or on the beaches should report it to the city council. They also advised locals that collected oil should be properly disposed of and not mixed with other waste. People were also told not to wash affected animals and to take them for veterinary assessments before returning them to sea.

The institute said that the assessment of the quality of fish caught in affected areas for human consumption is the responsibility of Brazil's health surveillance agency.

President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for rolling back environmental regulations and monitoring since taking office in January.

Massive forest fires this summer have destroyed large swaths of the Amazon, drawing international condemnation of Brazil's management of the environment.

Reposted with permission from our media associate DW.

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