Monday, March 19, 2012

Reason #156: Passports, Please


Last November, around three thousand barrels of oil were spilled into the ocean from an offshore oil field in Brazil, operated by Chevron and Transocean. That amounts to less than 0.1% the BP oil spill of two years ago, which seems like not that big of a deal, right?

Tell that to federal prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro, who are pursuing criminal charges against seventeen executives and employees from the two companies. They must turn their passports in to authorities within 24 hours, and charges are expected to be filed by Wednesday at the latest.

The charges appear to allege that the companies cut corners on safety procedures, and suggest that that particular well "should not have been drilled" in the first place; they are also accompanied by an $11 million federal environmental lawsuit, a record amount for the country.

I'm hardly an expert in Brazilian environmental law--and I'll note that the Brazilian government previously okayed the well, and that much bigger spills in the past haven't faced criminal action like this--but isn't it refreshing just to see an oil spill being treated like a real crime for once?

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