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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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International

Brazilian aircraft carrier poses potential ecological disaster

Feb 01, 2023

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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To sink or not to sink? That is the question. A Brazilian aircraft carrier in the South Atlantic is a potential ecological disaster.

The 34,000 ton, 870-foot long ship is the Sao Paulo. It was built 60 years ago by France. Brazil bought it in 2000, and then sold it for scrap to a Turkish shipyard in 2021. But Turkey doesn’t want it anymore.

Turkey said Brazil never proved the Sao Paulo didn’t have asbestos, a toxic mineral widely used in 20th century construction. After months of protests, and after the Sao Paulo had already set sail, Turkey said the ship could not enter a Turkish port.

The Sao Paulo returned to Brazil but was also denied entry there because port authorities were worried the ship would just be abandoned. It’s a surprisingly common problem. Abandoned ships are ecological disasters and spew toxic materials into the ocean.

A couple weeks ago, the Brazilian navy pushed the Sao Paulo out into international waters, where the plan was to blow it up and let it sink. The Basel Action Network (BAN) said doing so would violate three separate environmental conventions and equates to a state-sponsored environmental crime. According to BAN, in addition to the asbestos, the Sao Paulo contains hundreds of metric tons of other toxic substances in its electrical wiring, paints and fuel stores.

Brazil’s public prosecutor filed a civil suit to stop the Brazilian navy from sinking the Sao Paulo. Now it’s up to Brazil’s courts to decide how the saga of the Sao Paulo will end.

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TO SINK OR NOT TO SINK? THAT IS THE QUESTION. THIS 34,000 TON AIRCRAFT CARRIER IS THE SAO PAULO. IT WAS BUILT 60 YEARS AGO BY FRANCE. BRAZIL BOUGHT IT IN 2000, AND THEN SOLD IT FOR SCRAP TO A TURKISH SHIPYARD IN 2021.

BUT TURKEY DOESN’T WANT IT ANYMORE. THE TURKS SAID BRAZIL NEVER PROVED THE SAO PAULO DIDN’T HAVE ASBESTOS, A TOXIC MINERAL WIDELY USED IN 20TH CENTURY CONSTRUCTION. AFTER MONTHS OF PROTESTS, AND AFTER THE SAO PAULO HAD ALREADY SET SAIL, TURKEY SAID THE SHIP COULD NOT ENTER A TURKISH PORT.

THE SAO PAULO RETURNED TO BRAZIL BUT WAS ALSO DENIED ENTRY THERE BECAUSE PORT AUTHORITIES WERE WORRIED THE SHIP WOULD JUST BE ABANDONED. IT’S A SURPRISINGLY COMMON PROBLEM. ABANDONED SHIPS ARE ECOLOGICAL DISASTERS AND SPEW TOXIC MATERIALS INTO THE OCEAN.

A COUPLE WEEKS AGO, THE BRAZILIAN NAVY PUSHED THE SAO PAULO OUT INTO INTERNATIONAL WATERS WHERE THE PLAN WAS TO BLOW IT UP AND LET IT SINK. THE BASEL ACTION NETWORK SAID DOING SO WOULD VIOLATE THREE SEPARATE ENVIRONMENTAL CONVENTIONS AND EQUATES TO A STATE-SPONSORED ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME.

BRAZIL’S PUBLIC PROSECUTOR FILED A CIVIL SUIT TO STOP THE NAVY FROM SINKING THE SAO PAULO. NOW IT’S UP TO THE COURTS TO DECIDE HOW THE SAGA OF THE SAO PAULO WILL END.

IF YOU WANT TO SEE MORE REPORTING ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS DOT COM, WHERE YOU’LL ALWAYS FIND UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACTS.