Petrobras not notified of formal spill charges

by on September 26, 2012 5:15 pm BST

A Brazilian federal prosecutor announced the charges for the Brazilian state oil company Monday, saying that a 2011 oil spill at the Reduc refinery north of Rio de Janeiro released oil, residues and chemicals into the Igaucu River, Guanabara Bay and surrounding swamps, Dow Jones reported.

The charges are the latest in a series of investigations into oil company activities in Brazil, the news wire said.

US oil major Chevron and rig operator Transocean face criminal and civil lawsuits related to the Frade offshore accident in November that caused an estimated 3,700 barrels of crude to seep from cracks in the seabed.

Both companies deny any wrongdoing and are appealing an operating ban in Brazil. The field where the leaks were discovered remains shuttered.

Petrobras said in an email that the company meets all international and Brazilian environmental requirements. “All wastewater at the [refinery] are treated. Discharge of the wastewater respects Brazilian law,” Petrobras told the news wire.

Fabio Scliar, head of the federal police environmental crimes unit in Rio de Janeiro, said in an interview earlier this month that he had completed an investigation into wastewater discharge at the refinery.

The months-long investigation uncovered evidence that water contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants had been released into the river.

Scliar also said his investigation raised questions about how Petrobras treats and discards water produced along with oil at offshore platforms.

Evidence of potential irregularities with treatment of the wastewater was also forwarded to the federal prosecutor’s office, which plans to open a civil inquiry, he said at the time.

Petrobras said at the time that wastewater produced on platforms is treated and discarded in accordance with Brazilian laws.