Environmental crime

Dolphin killed by oil spill in Brazil

Experts are calling out on the government for blatant ineptitude.

More animals dying as a consequence of government inertia in oil spill case.

Image credit: Instituto Biota

The oil spill on the northeastern coast of Brazil has made its first mammalian victim. A dolphin smeared with oil has been found dead on a beach in Alagoas state, one of the nine states that have been affected by the crude oil spill.

Besides the dolphin, 13 turtles and one bird have lost their lives as a consequence of the environmental crime which remains unsolved. The exact cause of the death of the dolphin will be revealed after a necropsy.

An expert told UOL that the dolphin seemed to be in good health conditions and their weight was normal.

New spills have been detected along the coast, raising suspicions that the leakage continues. Environmentalists complain that information from government officials is sparse and not very clear, making it more difficult to control the oil.

In response to government inertia, Carlos Minc, a former minister of environment, has accused authorities of ineptitude and failing to act, despite existing legislation with procedure details in such cases.

He said in a Facebook post that immediately after the spillage was first reported, more than a month ago, “the government should have requested satellite images from the national space agency (INPE) and the navy should have looked at the route of all the ships in the region.”

He added that in 2009 his team elaborated a detailed plan on the main spillage risk areas with the measures to be taken. “We published eight volumes with maps of risk areas. Those volumes have images, hydrographic basin maps, tidal patterns, turtles, mangrove swamps and the instructions on what to do.”

His view is echoed by Yara Schaeffer Novelli, a professor with the State University of São Paulo and an expert in oil spills. She mentions another, even older piece of legislation called Lei 9.966 (2000) that sets out all the steps required to prevent, control and monitor pollution from oil spills and other harmful substances in national waters. These are the basic principles to be followed by all types of vessels, harbors, platforms and installations, both national and foreign, working in territorial waters.

“It’s all there, step by step,” she says. “I am stunned and upset. They are making a fool of us. They are not following the rules and most of the work that is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment is being done by activists,”she told Marco Zero magazine.

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