Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hazardous trash found in Brazil port

A container holding 22 tons of toxic trash that was allegedly shipped illegally and arrived through Germany has been discovered in a southern Brazilian port, environmental officials said Tuesday.

A statement from the enforcement arm of Brazil's Environment Ministry, Ibama, indicated the container was supposed to have only clean plastic meant for recycling. Instead, inspectors found dirty cleaning product containers, soiled diapers and "contaminated residues."

The Korean company responsible for transporting the container -- Hanjin Shipping -- was fined $852,000, and the Brazilian recycler was fined $227,000.

Calls to Hanjin Shipping's office in Sao Paulo rang unanswered, while Daniel Marcon, president of recycler Recoplast Recuperacao e Comercio de Plastico, said he will appeal because he thought he was only ordering clean plastics.

The container was found Aug. 3 in a port in Rio Grande. Ibama said the shipping company has until Aug. 26 to return the trash to Germany.

Ibama said it was originally from the Czech Republic and arrived via Hamburg, shipped by Hong Kong-based exporter Dashan.

Under the 1989 Basel Convention, which both Brazil and Germany have signed, it is illegal to export waste for disposal but fine to send it abroad for recycling.

"The noncompliance of international treaties (on shipping hazardous trash) is an affront to signatory nations and, in this case, disrespectful to Brazil and Brazilian society in its effort to maintain a healthy environment for the common good," said Abelardo Bayma, president of Ibama.

Last year, inspectors discovered more than 1,400 tons of toxic trash shipped in 89 containers to three Brazilian ports. That waste was also labeled as recyclable plastic.


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