Brazil’s haunting graveyard of ships risks environmental disaster, warns activist group

Brazil’s haunting graveyard of ships risks environmental disaster, warns activist group

GUANABARA BAY, Dec 29 (Reuters) – On a stormy evening in mid-November, a large, abandoned cargo ship broke free from its moorings and slowly floated on the massive concrete bridge that carries cars across Brazil’s Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil’s navy said the 200-meter-long (660-ft.) Sao Luiz, a rusting bulk carrier built in 1994, had been docked in the bay for more than six years pending legal proceedings before it ran into the longest bay of Latin America. – Water bridge. The Navy said it was investigating.

“The Sao Luiz is still today in the port of Rio, with 50 tonnes of oil in it,” Sergio Ricardo, co-founder of the socio-environmental group Movimento Baia Viva (Living Bay Movement), told Reuters, also pointing to high levels. of corrosion.

“The ship is unsafe and could cause an environmental disaster,” he said.

Around the world, financial and legal problems are common reasons for owners to abandon ships.

The Sao Luiz is one of dozens of ships left to rust in the iconic but heavily polluted bay, once home to vast mangroves and thriving marine life.

[1/4] A general view of Conceicao Island, where several abandoned ships are located, is seen in Guanabara Bay in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil December 28, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

The mangroves are now greatly reduced and pollution exacerbated by ship graveyards is threatening local seahorses, green turtles and Guiana dolphins, a symbol of Rio de Janeiro.

A study by the State University of Rio de Janeiro found this year that only 34 Guiana dolphins remained in the bay, down from about 800 in the 1990s.

In addition to the effect of ships on marine life and passing ships, which must navigate a path of semi-floating obstacles, pollution in the bay imposes a financial cost of about tens of billions of reais per year with its pollution, Ricardo estimated.

Fernando Pinto Lima, a 62-year-old former fisherman in the bay, told Reuters he used to be able to quickly catch 50 to 100 kilograms of fish. “Now to catch fifty kilos, it will take you a week or a month,” he said.

After the sinking of the Sao Luiz, local media reported that authorities were studying how to remove the ghost ships. But abandoned ships continue to form above and below its muddy waters.

($1 = 5.2186 reais)

Reporting by Pilar Olivares; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Bradley Perrett

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *