Brazil sinks old aircraft carrier full of toxic substances in Atlantic Ocean

Brazil sinks old aircraft carrier full of toxic substances in Atlantic Ocean
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Brazil has sunk a decommissioned aircraft carrier full of toxic metals deep in the Atlantic Ocean. Brazil called it a “planned and controlled sinking” that “occurred late in the afternoon” on Friday, over 200 miles off the Brazilian coast in an area where the ocean is about 16,000 feet deep.

The decision to sink the 65-year-old aircraft carrier “Sao Paulo” came after Brazilian authorities had tried and failed to find a port willing to welcome the vessel.

Though military officials said they would sink the vessel in the “safest area”, environmentalists criticized the decision, pointing to the fact that the warship contained tons of asbestos, heavy metals and other toxic substances that will ooze into the water and pollute the marine food chain.

Brazil’s newly-elected left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ignored the Basel Action network’s plea to immediately halt the “dangerous” plan to scuttle the ship. Brazil’s president had claimed during this recent election campaign that he would protect the environment.

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform – a consortium of environmental and human rights groups – called Brazil’s sinking of the Sao Paulo a “state-sponsored environmental crime.”

The warship spent the first four decades of its existence as part of the French Navy, which sold it to Brazil in 2000 for $12 million. A fire on the ship in 2005 seriously damaged it.

Last year, Brazil agreed to allow a Turkish firm to dismantle the Sao Paulo for scrap metal. But in August, just as a tugboat was about to tow it into the Mediterranean Sea, Turkish environmental protection officials blocked the plan. Brazil then brought the aircraft carrier back home but did not allow it into port, citing a “high risk” to the environment.

Brazil claimed Wednesday that its plan to sink the ship was “environmentally sound recycling.”

LU Staff

LU Staff

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