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US News Brazilians unite to clean beaches after massive oil spill decimates coast

05:25  24 october  2019
05:25  24 october  2019 Source:   cbsnews.com

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Watch CBSN Live. Brazilians come together to clean beaches after massive oil spill decimates coast . A general view of an oil spill on Peroba beach in Maragogi, Alagoas state, Brazil , on October 17, 2019.

The oil spill in northeastern Brazil is an ongoing spill of crude oil that has affected Brazilian Within the state of Bahia a civilian group called Coast Guardians was started with volunteers to clean up the coast Brazilians come together to clean beaches after massive oil spill decimates coast - CBS.

(Video by Reuters)

Earlier this month, Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia declared a state of emergency after an oil spill contaminated beaches along the coast. On Monday night, locals came together to clean up the spill following what they call a lack of action by the Brazilian government. The cause behind the 

This week, thousands of people took part in a cleanup to remove oil and tar from the beaches, BBC News reports. Both volunteers and government workers used wheelbarrows, spades and plastic gloves to remove chunks of tar from the water and the sand.

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Brazil 's government said that it had collected more than 600 tonnes of oil from its northeastern beaches since Sept. Oil has been washing up on the shores of northeastern Brazil for two months. More than 200 locations along the coast have been affected, threatening marine life.

For more than a month, Brazilian authorities have been investigating oil of unclear origin washing up across hundreds of kilometers of beaches in nine northeastern states. On Monday, Salles said that more than 100 tons of oil had already been collected from the coastline since September 2. (Reuters).

a group of people on a beach near a body of water: A general view of an oil spill on Peroba beach in Maragogi, Alagoas state, Brazil, on October 17, 2019.  © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. A general view of an oil spill on Peroba beach in Maragogi, Alagoas state, Brazil, on October 17, 2019.

Officials first started investigating the source of the vast oil spill — reportedly the largest in Brazil's history — in September. Since then, public outrage has grown following President Jair Bolsonaro's failure to contain the crisis.

It's been close to two months since the spill was first detected, but the source remains a mystery. Officials have no idea if the amount of oil is increasing or decreasing — or how long the issue will last.

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Experts told BBC News the spill could be the worst-ever disaster for coral reefs in the region. Crude has washed up on more than 1,300 miles of beaches in nine states — affecting the rich landscape and diverse marine life. At least 15 sea turtles, two seabirds and one fish have been found dead, according to officials.

Following public pressure, Vice President Hamilton Mourão said Monday that 5,000 more troops will be dispatched to help with the cleanup efforts, The Associated Press reports. Mourão told reporters about 600 tons of crude had been recovered since the sludge began appearing on beaches nearly two months ago.

a man that is standing in the water: A boy walks out of the sea while removing oil spilled on Itapuama beach located in the city of Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Pernambuco state, Brazil, on October 21, 2019. © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. A boy walks out of the sea while removing oil spilled on Itapuama beach located in the city of Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Pernambuco state, Brazil, on October 21, 2019.

Environmental groups say it's not enough, and volunteers have decided to take matters into their own hands through organized beach cleanups.

The government's reaction to the spill is exacerbating criticisms of its environmental policies, following a summer of raging fires throughout the Amazon. Environmentalists said humans were the root cause of those devastating fires — many were deliberately set to clear the forest for large-scale agriculture, though wind and heat helped them spread.

a group of people standing on top of a sandy beach: Volunteers and workers are seen removing oil spilled on Paiva beach located in the city of Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Pernambuco state, Brazil, on October 21, 2019. © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Volunteers and workers are seen removing oil spilled on Paiva beach located in the city of Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Pernambuco state, Brazil, on October 21, 2019.

At the time, Bolsonaro called the global alarm "sensationalist" and warned foreign governments not to meddle in the territory, which generated even harsher critique, both locally and at home.

An analysis by Ibama, the country's environmental agency, showed the oil did not come from Brazil. Investigations into the source of the contamination are ongoing.

a group of people in the water: 109300066-41fb18b3-2314-4b16-8c3e-6560a87a85cd.jpg © Reuters 109300066-41fb18b3-2314-4b16-8c3e-6560a87a85cd.jpg

"The most we can do today is have trained people to collect this oil that is reaching our beaches," Mourão said.

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