😎 Summer Sale Exclusive - Up to 50% off AI-powered stock picks by InvestingProCLAIM SALE

Brazil's haunting graveyard of ships risks environmental disaster, warns activist group

Published 12/29/2022, 06:38 AM
Updated 12/29/2022, 04:57 PM
© Reuters. A general view of the Conceicao island, where some abandoned ships are placed, is seen in the Guanabara Bay in Niteroi, in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil December 28, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

By Pilar Olivares

GUANABARA BAY (Reuters) - On a stormy evening in mid-November, a huge, abandoned cargo ship broke free of its moorings and slowly floated into the massive concrete bridge that carries cars across Brazil's Guanabara Bay to Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil's navy said the 200-meter-long (660-ft.) Sao Luiz, a rust-spattered bulk carrier built in 1994, had been anchored in the bay for more than six years awaiting legal proceedings before it crashed into Latin America's longest over-water bridge. The navy said it was investigating.

"The Sao Luiz is still in the Port of Rio today, with 50 tonnes of fuel oil in it," Sergio Ricardo, co-founder of socio-environmental group Movimento Baia Viva (Living Bay Movement) told Reuters, also pointing to high levels of corrosion.

"The ship is unsafe and can cause an environmental disaster," he said.

Worldwide, financial and legal problems are common reasons for owners abandoning ships.

The Sao Luiz is one of dozens of ships left to rust on the iconic but heavily polluted bay, once home to vast mangroves and thriving marine life.

The mangroves are now much reduced and pollution exacerbated by the graveyard of ships is threatening local sea-horses, green turtles and Guiana dolphins, a symbol of Rio de Janeiro.

A survey by the Rio de Janeiro State University found this year that just 34 Guiana dolphins remained in the bay, down from around 800 in the 1990s.

Besides the ships' effect on marine life and passing vessels, which must navigate an obstacle course of half-floating hulks, pollution in the bay imposes a financial cost of some tens of billions of reais a year with its pollution, Ricardo estimated.

Fernando Pinto Lima, a 62-year-old former fisherman in the bay, told Reuters he used to be able to quickly catch 50 to 100 kilograms of fish. "Now to catch fifty kilograms, it'll take you a week or a month," he said.

© Reuters. A general view of the Conceicao island, where some abandoned ships are placed, is seen in the Guanabara Bay in Niteroi, in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil December 28, 2022. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Following the Sao Luiz crash, local media reported that authorities were studying how to remove the ghost ships. But the derelict vessels continue to molder on and under its muddy waters.

($1 = 5.2186 reais)

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.