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  • Oil tankers are docked at the Guanabara Bay in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil November 19, 2014.

    Oil tankers are docked at the Guanabara Bay in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil November 19, 2014. | Photo: Reuters/File Photo

Published 26 September 2019

The ministry of environment identified a dark substance along the shores of Alagoas, Ceara, Paraiba, Pernambuco and Rio Grande do Norte states as hydrocarbonate.

Brazilian authorities started investigating the origin of dark spots of hydrocarbonate – an oil derivative – on Tuesday that have appeared in recent days on 39 beaches in eight of the country’s nine northeastern states and have affected several species of marine fauna.

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The spots, which first appeared on the beaches of Alcantara where a sea turtle died as a result of the environmental damage, spread all along the Atlantic coast and reached Boa Viagem, a tourist neighborhood of Recife, capital of Pernambuco State, on Tuesday.

The authorities are also preparing to analyze samples collected in Piaui, Maranhao and Sergipe in order to understand if the chemicals are related. ​​​​​​​Bahia is the only northeastern state where no oil spills have been found so far.

The country’s environmental watchdog, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), is investigating those responsible for dumping the oil derivative. The fines for doing so vary from 50 reals to 50 million reas (about US$12.1 to US$12.1 million), depending on the extent of the damage.

The Brazilian navy has said that the port captains, who are responsible for maritime security, sent naval inspection teams to the areas where the spots have been found.

An interdisciplinary team, including officials from the federal navy in Rio de Janeiro and Ibama, and the Federal University of Pernambuco, is also analyzing the samples to guide local agencies on how to discard properly of the material.

In addition to Recife, other regional capitals such as Sao Luis in Maranhao, Natal of Rio Grande do Norte, and Joao Pessoa in Paraiba, have also recorded the presence of the dark, slick stains on their beaches.​​​​​​​

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