Oil on beach in Bahia state.
The mystery began in September: crude oil started washing up onto stretches of the Brazil’s northeastern coast. Though no accident had been reported, the oil kept coming. As of late this month, oil had been spotted at 268 sites, mostly beaches and mangrove stands, and over 1,000 tons of it had been collected. In all, the oil had been found along a 2,500-kilometer (1,550-mile) band of 94 coastal municipalities in nine northeastern states from Maranhão to Bahia, the region’s northernmost and southernmost states. Petrobras, Brazil’s state-owned oil company, says testing suggests the crude is of Venezuelan origin, but scientists thus far can’t pinpoint where the oil is coming from, nor how much more might be on the way. They worry ocean currents pushing the oil south could carry it to the state of Bahia’s southernmost shores, site of the southern Atlantic region’s most extensive coral reefs and... [Log in to read more]