Where there is fire, there is an oil spill: Brazil’s new disaster


An oil slick is devastating a huge area of the Brazilian coast, but it took a month for the authorities to notice. 

September 25 – Oil spots are seen in a beach in Sergipe — Photo: Sergipe’s government via AFP

The oil spill spread across more than 2000 km, with 254 locations across nine states affected. It also reached a conservation area in Cururupu in the state of Maranhão according to the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.  

“We never seen a disaster of this magnitude that affects such an extensive area in Brazil. The damage can be irreparable, and the ecosystems will take years to recover”

Oceanographer Maria Christina Araújo of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) in an interview to RFI.  

As of Sunday (13th October) the crude oil contaminated 24 animals, 13 of these being sea turtles. Last Thursday, the Reserve Extrativista, a conservation area of endangered species such as the manatee was also hit by the oil.   

Turtle found covered in oil, cleaned by the Aquarium team of Natal — Photo: Heloísa Guimarães/Inter TV Cabugi

Where is the oil coming from?

The origin of the crude oil is said to come from Venezuela according to the research conducted by the Geoscience Institute of the Federal University of Bahia. The samples show a “strong similarity” with the petrol found the Venezuelan reservoir, but it could be the result of ship spillage.   

“The oil that we analyzed presented strong similarities with the oil that is produced, formed, originated in the reservoir in Venezuela. However, it could’ve been anyone that contaminated the sea, bought and brought it here. We don’t have the slightest idea and it is not our job, as geochemists, to tell what happened.”  

Olívia Oliveira, the institute’s director.  
‘man shows oil spill by the sea in Alagoas — Photo: Alisson Frazão/Reuters

The state-owned oil company Petróleos da Venezuela S/A released a statement saying, “there is no evidence of spillage of crude oil in the petrol fields of Venezuela that could’ve generated damages in the marine ecosystem of the neighboring country”. 

There are risks of crude oil spreading to rivers. Spots were found in the mouth of the São Francisco river in the state of Alagoas. In Sergipe, the government announced it doesn’t have the resources to prevent the crude oil to reach the state’s rivers. So far, there have been no further reports of the distribution of water within the regions being affected. All that can be concluded is that these oil spillages cause major issues to the environment around us and should not be taken lightly.

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