Brazil Slaps Petrobras With Record Fine For Oil Spill

Wednesday, August 02, 2000
Brazil's government slapped state oil giant Petrobras with a record fine of nearly $100 million on Aug 1 for causing the country's worst oil spill in 25 years in a disastrous July pipeline rupture.

Environmental agency Ibama said the fine - the highest-ever imposed for damage to the ecosystem - was justified due to Petrobras' inability prevent a series of oil spills this year, considered a repeated offense by officials. Petrobras has caused four spills since January.

Petrobras' press office declined comment on the fine, saying only: "We have received (official notice of) the fine and we are studying it." The latest government sanctions against Petrobras came after a broken pipeline oozed a million gallons of crude down the Iguacu River in southern Brazil, contaminating ecological reserves on the banks of the river.

Environmental groups were unimpressed by the fine, saying it represented only a hiccup in the company's bulging profits and would do little to force it to step up prevention efforts. "Don't forget this is a company that turns out more than $60 million a day," said Greenpeace President Roberto Kishinami. "This is not going to change Petrobras' relationship with society, or compensate for the long-term damage to the environment."

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