Monday, March 20, 2023
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Court denies appeal and upholds approval for sinking aircraft carrier


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The Federal Regional Court of the 5th Region denied, this Friday (3), an appeal by the Federal Public Ministry and maintained the decision of the first instance of the Federal Court in Pernambuco that rejected a request to prevent the hull of the aircraft carrier São Paulo from being sunk in Brazilian waters.

The decision is made by federal judge Leonardo Resende Martins, from the TRF-5, based in Recife. The MPF filed the appeal on Thursday (2), alleging an environmental risk in the event of the sinking of the vessel.

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The Navy decided to discard the hull on the Brazilian coast, as shown by the Sheet on Wednesday (1st), even after a Saudi group offered BRL 30 million for the equipment.

The magistrate says, in this Friday’s decision, that accepting the appeal postulated by the Public Ministry “would probably result in uselessness, given the imminence of spontaneous sinking of the hull, which would in no way favor the environment and could even pose risks to life and safety of the crew involved in the towing operation currently in progress”.

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The vessel’s scrap currently contains 9 tons of asbestos, a substance with toxic and carcinogenic potential, in addition to 644 tons of paint and other hazardous materials, according to the MPF. The use of asbestos has been prohibited in Brazil since 2017, following a decision by the Federal Supreme Court

In the decision, the judge states that “it is indisputable that the sinking of the hull, of gigantic proportions and containing toxic substances in its structure, is a solution to be intensely regretted”.

The magistrate recalls, in the document, that the ship was auctioned in 2022 to a foreign company, but Turkey barred the vessel from entering its territory. The judge said that, according to the Navy’s report, “the current situation in which the hull is found does not seem to leave many viable alternatives”.

“The feasibility of carrying out repairs to the hull in the place where it is currently located also seems unlikely, according to the assessment of the specialists who inspected it”, he adds.

The TRF-5 decision still classifies the sinking as a “regrettable and tragic solution”, but said that the decision rests only with the responsible public agents.

Martins also mentions the Saudi group’s offer to acquire the case and said that, if the proposal were viable, in his assessment, he is convinced that the Navy, Ibama and AGU would make the sale viable. “It is not known, however, what the level of concreteness of this proposal is, if it effectively exists as reported or if there were real negotiations in this regard.”

In the appeal, the Attorney General’s Office asked the TRF-5 to, in addition to changing the Court’s decision, order the Navy to immediately suspend any service aimed at sinking the vessel, on the high seas or near the coast, without the presentation of studies that prove the absence of environmental risk.

The MPF argued that “a technical note from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) points to the risk of serious environmental damage in the event of a possible sinking, especially taking into account that the hull is damaged, according to inspections carried out by Navy guidance”. The action was motivated by the news that the sinking of the vessel was scheduled for Wednesday (1st), which ended up not happening so far.

The aircraft carrier São Paulo is 266 meters long. Its armament consisted of three twin missile launchers and heavy-caliber machine guns. Asbestos was used as a thermal and acoustic insulator, to reduce aircraft take-off noise for the crew.

Upon confirming the decision to sink, the Ministry of Defense said that, given the “deterioration of buoyancy conditions” and the “inevitability of spontaneous sinking”, it would not be possible to adopt any other course “than jettisoning the hull”.

The Saudi group’s proposal for the case was made last Monday (30), after the Sheet reveal that the Navy planned to sink the vessel in view of the advanced degree of degradation of the old airfield.

The aircraft carrier was sold by the Navy to a Turkish shipyard specializing in ship dismantling. The vehicle left Brazil on August 4, on a trip that generated protests around the world and was monitored in real time by Greenpeace.

The Navy says that, after the decision to demobilize the aircraft carrier, it opted to sell the hull for “green dismantling”, a safe recycling process for which the Turkish shipyard Sök is accredited and certified.

But, in the face of complaints about the illegal export of asbestos, the Turkish government revoked authorization for the vessel to enter on August 26, when the ship was approaching the Strait of Gilbraltar, on a trip made with the help of a tugboat.

Analyzes carried out by the NGO Shipbreaking on a twin aircraft carrier to the São Paulo identified 760 tons of asbestos on the vessel. In view of this, the organization began to question whether, in fact, the hull sent by Brazil would have the 10 tons of toxic substance as foreseen in the inventory.

Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) suspended the export license and ordered the ship to return to Brazil.

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