The never-ending oil spill crisis remains a mystery

Over 5,000 tons of sludge appeared on beaches all over Brazil's Northeast coast in mid-2019. Authorities still don't know where it came from

oil spill northeast
Cabo de São Agostinho beach, in Pernambuco. Photo: Salve Maracaípe

The crisis began on August 30, 2019. That morning, the first oil stain was spotted on a beach in the northeastern state of Paraíba. Soon, more crude oil splotches would be found in other coastal areas — in a mystery that quickly became the most widespread environmental disaster in Brazilian history. Over 1,000 beaches, mangroves, and rivers in hundreds of municipalities — stretching over 2,000 kilometers of Brazil’s coastline — were swallowed up by at least 5,000 tons of thick fragments of crude oil sludge. The local tourism industry was wrecked, while hundreds of thousands of fishermen lost most...

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