Sinking an aircraft carrier could cause the death of species, says Ibama

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The possible sinking of the hull of the aircraft carrier São Paulo, which has been roaming the Brazilian coast since August last year, could impact living beings and even entire ecosystems, says Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources).

According to an assessment by the agency’s technical team, the Navy’s plan, revealed by the Sheetto dispose of the 266-metre-long ship on the sea floor is expected to release polluting materials contained in the structure and could impact biodiversity “hotspots”, which are fundamental for marine life.

Among the expected impacts are disturbances in the filtering capacity and growth difficulties in aquatic organisms and release of CFCs and HCFCs gases (which degrade the ozone layer and act on global warming). In addition, the physical impact on the sea floor would cause the death of species, the deterioration of ecosystems and the carcass could attract invasive species.

The institute also estimates that microplastics and heavy metals present in the vessel’s paint “could become protagonists of undesirable bioaccumulation in aquatic organisms”. Bioaccumulation occurs when substances accumulate in tissues or organs of living beings.

The Navy’s plan would be to carry out the so-called controlled sinking through a series of explosions to open holes in the hull. This would lead to the ocean with more than nine tons of asbestos present in the vessel. Asbestos is a toxic product that causes diseases such as cancer and asbestosis, which attacks the lungs.

Ibama claims that the ship does not carry a toxic cargo. “Hazardous materials are an inseparable part of its structure. In green recycling, they would be removed and would receive appropriate environmental treatment,” the agency said in a statement.

The prediction was that this environmentally correct disposal would be done by a Turkish shipyard, but the aircraft carrier ended up being banned from entering the country after complaints of environmental irregularities. With that, Ibama also rescinded the export authorization and he returned to Brazilian waters, where the Navy took over the operation.

According to the institute, the Navy has been reporting that the deterioration of the hull has worsened in recent months and that there would be no conditions for salvage. With the risk of sinking, the ship was moved approximately 300 km away from the coast of Pernambuco, in a place with a depth of 5,000 meters.

Still according to Ibama, while the agency defended that the aircraft carrier be docked in a Brazilian port –so that it could be repaired and re-exported to undergo green recycling–, the Navy claimed that the company that owned it would not have met the necessary requirements to dock with safety.

In a press release issued this Tuesday (31), the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, which monitors the issue of the conscious dismantling of ships worldwide, said that the sinking of the ship would cause the Navy to violate three international treaties: the Basel Convention , which deals with the transport of waste; the London Convention, which prevents marine pollution; and the Stockholm Convention, designed to eliminate the production and use of some toxic substances.

“Based on the available evidence, the Brazilian Navy must be convicted of gross negligence,” said Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network organization. “If you continue [com o plano de] dump a highly toxic vessel in the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, they will violate the terms of three international environmental treaties, and they will do so without good reason. We appeal to President Lula, as Commander-in-Chief [das Forças Armadas]to immediately stop the dangerous plan to sink.”

Sought to clarify why the decision to sink the ship was taken, where and when the operation will be carried out, which professionals will supervise it and the extent of the expected environmental damage, the Navy stated that it would only pronounce itself through official notes.

Ibama added that it is seeking detailed information about the predicted location for the sinking. “For Ibama, the best environmental destination for former ships is green recycling at a shipyard accredited by the European Union. Countries like Italy, Norway, Denmark, United Kingdom and Turkey have this infrastructure”, said the institute.

This Tuesday (31), the MPF (Federal Public Ministry) filed a lawsuit to prevent the aircraft carrier from being sunk. According to the organ, the action was motivated by information that the operation would be scheduled for this Wednesday (1st). The objective of the MPF is to prevent the sinking from causing “irreparable damage to the marine environment, the public health of the population and irreversible health consequences”.

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