There Is A Major Oil Spill Affecting Over 100 Beaches In Brazil. What You Need To Know

October 16, 2019

Brazil oil spill on the beachWe all remember the Amazon rainforest burning in August. Sadly, it still is. Although there are not as many fires as there were in August and September, Brazil is still burning with a record number of forest fires. Unfortunately, the country now has yet another environmental crisis on its hands. 

Over 100 tons of crude oil have spilled into the ocean and are washing up onto the coast of Brazil since September. It has been reported that 132 beaches and nine northeastern states have this black sludge washing up onto the shore. Petrobras, Brazil’s oil company, has denied involvement in the contamination of the Atlantic. After testing, researchers announced that the crude is too thick to be from Petrobras. Experts have said that the oil is neither from or even exported, into the country. However, Petrobras has still promised 100 employees to help with the cleanup. The rest is up to the country’s navy, conservation groups, and government.

For days, President Bolsonaro has been claiming that the oil spill is due to criminal activity. Although the government hasn’t officially released an accusation, Ricardo Salles, the country’s environment minister, has claimed that the oil has very similar characteristics to Venezuela’s heavy crude. Venezuela has yet to make a statement. 

Over a dozen sea turtles have died due to the oil spill. Turtles, birds, and other marine wildlife have been turning up covered in the sludge. O Estado de S. Paulo, a local newspaper, reported approximately 800 baby turtles that recently hatched were prevented from entering the ocean due to the crisis. IBAMA, Brazil’s environmental agency, has stated that fish and shellfish have not been affected.


IBAMA has been doing its best analyzing the spill to find answers. However, since January 1st when he came into office, Bolsonaro has cut the agency’s budget by 25%. With the budget cuts, his seeming lack of care for the forest fires, and his reducing fines for illegal deforestation, the far-right President’s commitment to Brazil’s environment is highly in doubt. 

IBAMA has started their investigations on September 2nd, and now, over a month later, we are no closer to finding the exact culprit. The Venezuelan oil company has said that none of their oil tankers reported any incidents during transport. Yet, with two oil barrels found in Sergipe, everything points to that being the cause, regardless of country involvement.

With Bolsonaro facing backlash due to his response to the Amazon fires, the oil spill happened at such a time that it is taking the pressure off of him for the time being. It is heartbreaking what has happened to Brazil this year. I have not yet been able to find any organization that is accepting donations or volunteers, if you do, please share with us in the comments! Until then, this incident is another reminder that our oil dependence is utterly unsustainable on a myriad levels: not only because of the rising average global temperatures and climate crisis, but also for the conservation of our environment, ecosystems, and species. 

Also by Iga: New Study Shows We Eat A Credit Card’s Worth Of Microplastics In A Week

Amazon Just Announced A Major Climate Pledge. But Why It Is Not Enough To Convince Us

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Photo: ET Now via Instagram; Al Jazeera English via Instagram

Iga is a freelance writer based in Colorado, but originally from Poland. She follows the vegan, sustainability and zero-waste movements while trying to live a practical lifestyle! When she’s not writing she likes to practice yoga, read, play with her dogs and just be outside in nature. You can find more of her work at her website


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