Bits of oil from Brazil spill reach whale sanctuary

Katie Ramirez
November 4, 2019

Brazilian authorities said on Friday that a Greek-flagged ship carrying Venezuelan oil was behind the oil spill.

"There is no proof of the vessel having stopped, conducted any kind of STS operation (Ship to Ship), leaked, slowed down or veered off course, on its passage from Venezuela to Melaka, Malaysia", the company Delta Tankers Ltd said in a statement.

On Saturday, Delta said the material obtained from an analysis of its security equipment will be shared with Brazilian authorities when they contact the company regarding the investigation, adding that no such contact has been made.

Delta Tankers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Separately, police raided the Rio de Janeiro offices of a company linked to the owners of the ship, federal police said.

In early September, environmental agencies in Brazil began noticing crude oil washing up on more than 100 beaches in nine northeastern states, from Maranhao in the north down to Bahia.

Brazil's solicitor general said the country would seek damages in the case, which has hurt tourism and fishing communities in the poorer northeast region.

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Federal police, the Justice Ministry and the Brazilian navy have joined the investigation into the source of the spill. "The spill investigated would have occurred during this journey", the police said in the statement.

Prosecutors did not give details for when the alleged USA detention occurred, and Reuters was unable to verify the account.

According to Brazilian Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque, the oil spilled on the beaches is not of Brazilian origin, "so it has nothing to do with oil and gas activity in Brazil, nothing to do with oil and gas auctions".

Brazil has extensive offshore oil exploration activity, but state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) has said molecular tests on samples showed they weren't compatible with the oils produced and sold by the company.

Marine animals have died, including tortoises and thousands of volunteers have mobilised to clean beaches with the tourist high season approaching.

So far, Brazil has collected some 2,000 tons of mud from its beaches in continuous cleaning efforts, while working to rehabilitate birds and sea turtles covered with thick oil. The authorities have said that Brazil is following the standard protocols.

Because the heavy crude does not float on the ocean surface like most oil slicks, officials said traditional methods of keeping it off the shore have been ineffective.

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