Brazil: Illegal Waste Exports are an Environmental Crime

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Containers of waste exported illegally from the United Kingdom to Brazil will be returned to their port of origin in England. Yesterday, the Brazilian's Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) sealed 41 containers of solid waste in the seaport of Santos in São Paulo. All six companies involved in the import, the freight forwarding, and their consignees received sanctions for crimes against the environment with fines reaching 2.5 million Brazilian reais (US$ 1.3 million).Minister of the Environment Carlos Minc, who participated in IBAMA's operation, said he will call on the Inter-ministerial Committee to Fight Against Environmental Crimes, which consists of the ministries of Environment and Justice, the Federal Police and National Force, to reinforce environmental surveillance in Brazilian ports.

"How could countries that say they do everything to protect the environment with technology, funds and material means send their domestic, chemical and industrial waste to poor and developing countries to be burned and buried?" asked Minc.

The companies responsible for importing the waste say the material found in Santos may have been shipped as plastic for recycling, but IBAMA found it to be domestic waste. The containers included used diapers and animal feed packages among other non-recyclable items. Minc will launch an investigation to assess the environmental damage caused by the illegal import of domestic and industrial waste.

This is not the first time waste from other countries has arrived in Brazil. In 1992, chemical waste from developed countries harmed port workers in Brazil, and in 2004 Brazilian ports received tons of industrial waste from Belgium, including toxic substances such as lead remains and other metals.

Update - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked Brazil's Permanent Delegation in Geneva to report the traffic of hazardous waste from the UK under the terms of the Basel Convention. On July 23, 2009, Minister Celso Amorim spoke with British Chancellor David Miliband, who said the subject will be given the required attention. Amorim stressed Article 9 of the Convention, which says that the exporter shall bear responsibility for returning the illegal shipment to the country of origin. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of the Environment and IBAMA are still evaluating the need for additional measures.

Waste exported from England to Brazil to be returned
Published by the Secretariat of Social Communication, Presidency of the Republic No. 853 - Brasilia, July 24, 2009

Secretariat of Communications of the Presidency of Brazil

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