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Fragments of Oil Found on Rio de Janeiro’s Beaches

Published on 23rd November 2019

23 November 2019 - Fragments of oil were found this weekend in São João da Barra, in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro, bringing the number of affected states to ten.


Rio de Janeiro - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday (23) that the federal government still "does not know how much oil remains in the sea", after fragments of the raw material were found in São João da Barra, in the north of the state of Rio de Janeiro this weekend. The origin of the oil spill that was first identified in August this year remains unknown.

"We would love to identify who committed, in my view, this criminal act. We do not know how much oil remains in the sea," the president said in an interview after attending a military event in the West Zone of Rio, according to Brazilian news channel G1.

The Navy and other federal agencies accompanying the environmental disaster have identified 300 grams of oil fragments at Grussaí Beach in São João da Barra. The task force reported that the material was detected on Friday (22) and is similar to what has already been found on the Brazilian northeast coast and, more recently, in the state of Espirito Santo just north of Rio.

"In the worst case, if the oil tanker lost all its cargo in the sea, less than 10% of it has arrived on our shores. So let us prepare for the worst. We ask God it doesn’t come to that," Bolsonaro added.

A group of Navy soldiers and members of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) went to Grussaí to access the situation. A task force meeting was expected to take place later this weekend.

Oil has contaminated the Brazilian coastline since late August and has reached 720 locations, according to data from the latest report from Ibama released this Thursday (21). In total, 72% of the northeastern 156 coastal municipalities have been contaminated since the beginning of the environmental disaster. Of the 117 cities affected, 112 are in the Northeast and five in Espírito Santo, the first state in the Southeast affected by the oil.

The oil has already affected 141 animals on the coast, according to another Ibama report published on Wednesday (20). Of these, 100 were found dead and only 41 survived. Sea turtles have suffered the most - 96 different species of turtles have been contaminated.

The investigation to determine the origin of the oil that continues to contaminate Brazilian beaches has not yet been completed. So far, there have been no convictions, although the Federal Police investigation points to the Greek vessel Bouboulina as the main suspect.

The vessel loaded one million barrels of Merey 16 crude oil into Port José, Venezuela, on July 15, and set sail for Malaysia, passing the Paraiba coast on July 28. However, Delta Tankers, which is responsible for the ship, claims to have evidence that Bouboulina is unrelated to the incident.