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Brazil recently sank a decommissioned aircraft carrier, despite warnings from environmental groups that the former French ship was packed with toxic materials. The São Paulo, which was built in the late 1950s and purchased by Brazil for $12 million in 2000, was sunk 350 km off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean in an area with a depth of approximately 5,000 meters.
Source: Straight Arrow News/Youtube
The decision to scuttle the ship was made after Brazilian authorities failed to find a port willing to accept it. Despite the navy’s claims that the sinking would occur in the “safest area,” environmental organizations criticized the move, saying the ship contained tons of asbestos, heavy metals, and other toxic materials that could pollute the marine food chain.
Groups such as the Basel Action Network, Greenpeace, and Sea Shepherd issued a joint statement, accusing Brazil of violating “three international treaties” on the environment. They called on Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who recently took office with a vow to reverse environmental destruction, to halt the “dangerous” plan.
Brazilian authorities argued that it was better to sink the ship on purpose rather than allow it to sink spontaneously, claiming that they chose a spot for sinking that took into consideration “the security of navigation and the environment” and “the mitigation of the impacts on public health, fishing activities, and ecosystems.”
However, environmentalists argue that other environmentally responsible measures could have been adopted. A last-minute legal bid to stop the sinking was overruled by a judge who claimed that an unplanned sinking could be even worse for the environment.
The São Paulo had a storied past, having taken part in France’s first nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1960s and being deployed in various locations from the 1970s to 1990s. In 2005, a fire broke out onboard, accelerating the ship’s decline. Last year, Turkey’s Sok Denizcilik was authorized to dismantle the São Paulo for scrap metal, but the plan was blocked by Turkish environmental authorities.
The sinking of the São Paulo raises serious questions about the responsibility of countries to dispose of toxic waste in a safe and sustainable manner. It’s crucial that we take action to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future and protect our oceans, which are vital to life on our planet.
So, what can we do? We can start by spreading awareness about the dangers of toxic waste and advocating for better waste management policies. We can also make conscious choices in our daily lives to reduce our own waste and Support companies that prioritize sustainability. Let’s make our voices heard and protect our oceans for future generations.
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