Brazilian Officials Investigating Chevron Oil Spill Off Coast

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Law enforcement agencies in Brazil announced today that they would begin investigating the cause of an oil spill that occurred off the coast. Chevron’s Frade Well off the coast of Brazil has been leaking for more than a week. From the start, Chevron tried to downplay the significance of the spill, suggesting it had natural causes, but Brazilian officials are now saying that Chevron did, in fact, cause an oil spill.

Mike G at The Understory lays out the story:

Brazil’s Federal Police agency has announced that it is investigating the spill, and said in a statement that those responsible could be facing up to 5 years in prison…After Chevron tried to blame it on natural seepage for a week, officials have confirmed that the oil spill off the Brazilian coast is in fact the result of Chevron’s operations at its Frade well.

Echoing last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and BP’s defensive and often misleading public communications during that disaster, Chevron has continuously downplayed and underestimated the amount of oil that has leaked out of their well (which, according to the company, was sealed today). The oil giant claims that the amount of oil leaked out of the Frade well was somewhere between 400 and 650 barrels of oil, with only about 65 barrels worth of oil remaining on the surface of the water after a week of natural dissipation and the application of chemical dispersants.

However, independent analyses performed by organizations tell a different story.

From The Washington Post:

SkyTruth, a nonprofit group that uses satellite imagery to detect environmental problems, said on its website the oil spill extended 918 square miles (2,379 square kilometers) and that the spill rate as of Tuesday was up to at least 3,738 barrels per day.

Chevron said in its statement that it “continues to fully inform and work with Brazilian government agencies and industry partners on all aspects of this matter.”

“If Chevron is not doing what it should (to contain the spill) it will be severely punished,” Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said Thursday.

In another eerie similarity to the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, the contractor of Chevron’s Frade well was Transocean, the company that actually owned the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Unlike the “justice” being served in America to BP and the other companies involved in last year’s oil disaster, Chevron executives in Brazil could actually face prison time for their disaster, as Mike G mentions in his piece.

This would be a tremendous precedent to set for other oil companies who have run roughshod over communities and the environment across the globe without any remorse or true accountability.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

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