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World Bolsonaro reaffirms Greek ship at fault for Brazil oil spill

20:25  04 november  2019
20:25  04 november  2019 Source:   msn.com

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has stuck to the government's assertion that a Greek freighter caused an oil spill that has hit over 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of coastline despite the shipowner's denial of any leakage from its vessel.

FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2019 file photo released by the Sergipe state government, oil covers the beach in Sergipe state, Brazil. Oil has been washing up on Brazilian beaches for two months, with authorities saying it’s one of Brazil’s worst-ever environmental disasters. (Sergipe State Government via AP, File)© Provided by The Associated Press FILE - In this Sept. 25, 2019 file photo released by the Sergipe state government, oil covers the beach in Sergipe state, Brazil. Oil has been washing up on Brazilian beaches for two months, with authorities saying it’s one of Brazil’s worst-ever environmental disasters. (Sergipe State Government via AP, File)

Bolsonaro said in an interview with Record TV late Sunday that, "All signs point to this Greek cargo ship. All of them." He added that the leak, "by all accounts looks like it was criminal."

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Brazil's government has been striving to investigate the cause of the spill that has hit 321 beaches along the northeast coast since early September, hurting fishing and tourism. Authorities have described the spill as one of the country's worst environmental disasters. Though tracking the origin of the crude has been impeded by its high density that renders it invisible from above.

Shipowner Delta Tankers Ltd issued a statement earlier saying it found no evidence of leakage after reviewing the ship's cameras and sensors.

"This material will be willingly shared with Brazilian authorities, should they contact the company regarding this investigation. So far, no such contact has been made," the statement said.

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Brazilian prosecutors said that Delta's oil tanker, named Bouboulina, was navigating through Brazilian waters at the time and location of the spill. The ship was carrying oil from Venezuela to Malaysia.

In a search order seen Friday by The Associated Press, Brazilian prosecutors said "there is no indication of another boat" that could have discharged the Venezuelan crude into the sea.

Some 4,000 tons of oil has been collected from northeastern beaches, according to a statement Sunday from the Navy, Brazil's environmental regulator, and the national petroleum agency.

In a press conference on Monday, Brazil's defense minister, Gen. Fernando Azevedo e Silva, called the spill "unprecedented."

"This is a disaster that had never happened in Brazil, or in the world, with this kind of oil," he said, referring to the type of crude that sinks below the ocean's surface. "It's not detectable by satellite. ... its imperceptible. We don't know how much will still come."

Oil Spill in Brazil Hits Breeding Grounds for Humpback Whales

  Oil Spill in Brazil Hits Breeding Grounds for Humpback Whales The mysterious oil spill that hit Brazil’s coastline two months ago has reached the archipelago of Abrolhos, a national marine park that’s home to the greatest biodiversity in the southern Atlantic Ocean -- the waters where humpback whales migrate to breed. Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva flew over the five islands that comprise Abrolhos park located off the southern coast of Bahia in the northeast of Brazil on Sunday to monitor the impact. Small fragments of oil were spotted in some locations, Brazil’s Navy said on Saturday. The oil also threatens Abrolhos’ highly sensitive coral reefs.

In the TV interview on Sunday, Bolsonaro gave a cryptic warning, saying that, "The worst is yet to come," but didn't explain further.

David Zee, an oceanographer at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said that the 4,000 tons of collected oil is "just the tip of the iceberg," both because the cleanup effort is mostly limited to sandy beaches in populated areas and also because a large portion of spilled oil is likely spread deep beneath the ocean's surface.

Furthermore, when currents bring oil to sandy shores, it's relatively easy to collect, while is nearly impossible to remove from corals and mangrove forests, which make up a part of the affected area, Zee said.

Brazilian armed forces along with environmental protection agencies and petroleum authorities are leading an operation to clean and monitor the oil spill and investigate its origins. Several public universities are conducting research about the spill, its origins and impact. Television footage has also shown volunteers flocking to beaches to help with the cleanup, often without government supervision.

Of particular concern at the moment is the Abrolhos national marine park, home to Brazil's largest coral reefs. Authorities said Sunday night that they had removed the fragments of oil that had appeared in the park and so far no new traces had been found.

Guaido backers enter Venezuela embassy in Brasilia, sparking standoff .
Supporters of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido gained access to the country's embassy in Brasilia on Wednesday morning, leading to a standoff with backers of leftist President Nicolas Maduro, according to diplomatic representatives. The confrontation threatened to create a diplomatic crisis just as the BRICS summit of major emerging economies kicked off in the Brazilian capital. The embassy standoff highlights stark differences between Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has recognized Guaido as Venezuela's leader, and Maduro's Chinese and Russian allies, who are meeting with Bolsonaro this week.

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