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Brazil's Petrobras reports oil spill near Rio beaches

BRAZIL: January 19, 2000

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - An underwater pipeline ruptured off the Brazilian coast yesterday, spewing about 500 tonnes of oil that began washing up on beaches near the city of Rio de Janeiro, the state oil company Petrobras said.

Petrobras President Henri Philippe Reichstul called the rupture a "worrying accident," which he estimated caused an moderate oil slick of between 3 km and 5 km.

"We don't know the exact quantity, but we think it's around 500 tonnes. It's a worrying accident. Some of the beaches are covered with oil, which we saw when we flew over the area," Reichstul said.

Petrobras detected the spill early Tuesday morning, when a routine check every two hours showed a gap between the amount of oil being pumped offshore from Guanabara Bay and the amount received from one of 14 pipelines.

"This morning when we were checking, we noticed a difference and then we stopped pumping. At the exit of the pipe into the bay about 20 meters into the water, we discovered a leak," Reichstul said.

He added that production was continuing normally since "the only thing stopped was the pumping on the one line."

The Petrobras chief said the company was rallying local emergency services and a team of 200 workers would intensify beach-cleaning efforts on Wednesday.

The area damaged by the spill was localised to three small beaches on Guanabara Bay, located in a municipality adjoining Rio de Janeiro city. Reichstul estimated the clean-up would last for about 30 days.

"The immediate problem is to look after the people affected in the beach area, and obviously it will affect the local fishing industry," he said.

He also said Petrobras had not yet identified the cause of the accident, but added the results of a preliminary investigation would be released by Friday.

Last year, Petrobras mopped up 13,000 gallons (50,000 liters) of crude oil that had spilled due to a pipeline break in the northeastern coastal state of Bahia.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE __________________________________________________________________________

Subject: Rio oil spill & ER glitches Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 18:06:01 -0500 X-MSMail-Priority: Normal Importance: Normal X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.2106.4

[Oil spill was Rio's worst ecological disaster in 10 yrs, and "faulty software . . . allowed the accident to go unnoticed for several hours."]

Brazilians Work To Clean Oil Spill

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP)  Hundreds of volunteers and experts cleaned up muck-covered beaches and tried to save endangered birds Saturday as the massive oil spill polluting Rio's Guanabara Bay continued spreading.

The work continued four days after a pipeline sprung a leak and spewed 338,000 gallons of crude oil into the bay, according to Petrobras, the government-owned oil company. Local environmentalists say it is the worst ecological disaster to hit Rio de Janeiro in a decade.

CBN Radio reported Saturday that Petrobras President Henri Phillipe Reichstul has fired the company's corporate and environmental affairs directors as a result of the spill. He apparently held them responsible for corrosion that caused the pipeline to leak and faulty software that he said allowed the accident to go unnoticed for several hours. . . .

-- GICC Sysop (, July 18, 2000

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