Brazil faces backlash over plans to sink ‘toxic’ aircraft carrier despite pollution risk

Outrage ensued and the environmentalists blasted the Brazilian authorities on Friday after the country’s government announced its plan of sinking the 870 feet and 34,000-ton decommissioned aircraft carrier in international waters. In a statement published on February 3, the Brazilian Navy said that it had already begun the operation to dump the warship dubbed ‘30,000-tonne toxic package’. The warship has been towed around the Atlantic for months with a damaged hull.

The 60-year-old is the largest Brazilian warship in existence. NAE SAO PAULO A12 could not be scrapped as it was sailed to Turkey in August, but Ankara’s government did not allow the vessel to anchor in its territory, reports suggest. Brazil had plans to get the vessel dismantled in the Turkish scrapyard but it was not allowed to dock. Turkey’s ministry stated that the Brazilian ship had asbestos silicate mineral, which is excessively toxic and is commonly found in ships that were constructed back in the 20th century. The component is associated with serious diseases like lung cancer and asbestosis, the scarring of the lungs when exposed to it. Brazil’s environment minister, Marina Silva, also expressed concerns about asbestos scattering in the oceans. the final call, however, rests with the Brazilian defense minister, José Múcio Monteiro.

When the ship returned from Turkey, around September, last year, it was prevented from docking on the coast of Pernambuco state. It has now been reportedly sailing aimlessly with nowhere to dock on the Brazilian coast for nearly five months. Left with no option, the Brazilian navy sailed the ship into international waters on January 20 announcing earlier yesterday that it plans to finally sink it in international waters. 

Six-decade-old ship will be scuttled: Brazilian Navy

Brazilian Navy and Defence Ministry said in a statement that the nearly six-decade-old ship will be scuttled as it cannot find a single port that can dock it. “Given the situation and the growing risk of towing (the ship), in light of the deteriorating buoyancy of the hull and the inevitability of a spontaneous, uncontrolled sinking, there is no option but to jettison it in a planned, controlled sinking,” the statement from Brazilian ministry read. The climate and environmental activists, however, blasted the Brazilian authorities on Friday for its irresponsible move, saying that the vessel contains tonnes of asbestos, heavy metals and other toxic materials that is hazardous to the marine ecosystem.  

Accusing the Brazilian government of “gross violation” of climatic protocols, the chief of a charitable non-governmental organization that combats the export of toxic waste Basel Action Network (BAN) said that Brazil needed a change of plan. Jim Puckett reminded the newly sworn-in President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of his environmental commitments as opposed to his predecessor ex-president Jair Bolsonaro, demanding the halting of such a “dangerous plan.” “If they proceed with dumping the very toxic vessel into the wilderness of the Atlantic Ocean, they will violate the terms of three international environmental treaties,” BAN’s head said in a statement.

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