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Brazil Sinks Aircraft Carrier in Atlantic Despite Pollution Risk

brazilian aircraft carrier
Brazil Sinks Aircraft Carrier in Atlantic Despite Pollution Risk. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

The Brazilian military went ahead and sank an outdated aircraft carrier in the Atlantic Ocean dismissing objections from environmental groups by arguing that the damage would have been worse if the ship had not been sunk carefully.

After being built in the late 1950s, the aircraft carrier received the name Foch and saw service in the French navy for a total of 37 years. Its role as a witness to history is shown by the fact that it was there for France’s first nuclear test. This took place in the Pacific in the 1960s.

Over the course of its service, the ship was sent to a number of theaters of conflict, including Africa, the Middle East, and the region once known as Yugoslavia, helping to establish her position in naval history.

Turkey’s Refusal to Allow Decommissioned Aircraft Carrier to be Scrapped

The 32,000-ton Sao Paulo has been adrift in the waters off the shore of Brazil’s northeastern coast for the last three months. A Turkish marine recycling company had bought the ship for $10.5 million in hopes of dismantling it in Turkish waters. Once there however, the country denied its entry and subsequent dismantling due to environmental worries and towed it back to Brazil.

The ship was sunk in a manner that was “planned and controlled” by the military in order to “avoid logistical, operational, environmental, and economic losses.” The ship was sunk in Brazilian seas with the intention of causing the least amount of disruption to the local ecosystems and fishing communities.

The intervention of the Environmentalists

The Basel Action Network urged Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s democratically elected president, to cancel the ship’s sinking. The group deemed the action “hazardous.”

As soon as he entered office in January, President Lula da Silva made good on his campaign vow to reverse the worsening environmental destruction that had happened during previous President Jair Bolsonaro’s regime.

The Director of programs for Greenpeace Brazil, Leandro Ramos said, that “environmentally responsible measures could have been adopted, but once again, the importance of protecting the oceans, which are vital for the life of the planet, was treated with negligence.”

The Brazilian Environmental Agency (Ibama) expressed worry about the environmental consequences of sinking the ship in a note they released last month.

Pollutants on board might be harmful to marine life, and sinking the ship will have a negative effect on marine ecosystems and endanger many species. Hydrofluorocarbons, which are often used as insulation, may also be harmful to the ozone layer.

Despite these worries, the military decided to go forward with the plan to destroy the ship, promising that it would be done in a safe area of the ocean away from any underwater communication lines or environmentally protected zones.

The government filed suit to halt the proposal, but their efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.

Violation of Three Conventions

Greenpeace has asserted that the sinking is a violation of the Basel Convention, the London Convention, and the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants.

The group also said that the navy made the decision to enable public viewing of the ship but instead did things that were detrimental to the environment and cost them millions of dollars.

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