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Brazil Demands Repatriation of UK Hazardous Waste 110

Posted by kdawson
from the got-enough-of-our-own-thanks dept.
Peace Corps Online writes "BBC reports that Brazilian authorities are demanding the return of more than 1,400 tons of hazardous British waste found in about 90 shipping containers on three Brazilian docks. The waste, which includes syringes, condoms, and bags of blood, has been identified as being of UK origin from the names of British supermarkets and newspapers among the rubbish. Reports in the UK media say the waste was sent from Felixstowe in eastern England to the port of Santos, near Sao Paulo, and two other ports in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The British government has launched an investigation into how and why the waste was sent to Brazil and the British Embassy in Brazil has said in a statement that it was investigating and would 'not hesitate to act' if it was found that a UK company had violated the Basel Convention on the movement of hazardous waste. Meanwhile Brazil is demanding the immediate return of the rubbish to the UK. 'We will ask for the repatriation of this garbage,' says Roberto Messias, head of the Brazilian environment agency. 'Clearly, Brazil is not a big rubbish dump of the world.'" Two UK companies named by Brazil as suspected exporters of the waste are owned by a Brazilian, based in the UK, who says that anything that was in the containers other than the expected recyclable plastic is a problem to take up with his suppliers.
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Brazil Demands Repatriation of UK Hazardous Waste

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:11PM (#28743461)

    Why is this on Slashdot ?

  • by Datamonstar (845886) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:15PM (#28743483)
    Douglas Adams himself would have a difficult time thinking up something so blunderingly, amazingly stupid and steeped in political dumb-fuckery. I find myself compelled, forced even, to complete a piece of fan fiction regarding a massive garbage freighter being sent repeatedly back and forth between two planets like a giant, stinky and half-rotten tennis ball because two governments couldn't get it straight which one of them tossed out the first banana peel. I think it has merit.
  • riiiiight.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:16PM (#28743495)

    who says that anything that was in the containers other than the expected recyclable plastic is a problem to take up with his suppliers.

    Did he ship it? Did his company sign the manifests and declarations? Did his company pay the mooring fees? Sorry, that's the cost of doing business. It's his problem.

    "I didn't know what was in the bag" doesn't work for smugglers.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes and no.. one of the things about container shipping is that most of the time the shipper never does know what is in the container other than what the supplier says is in it. They pick up the container box closed and sealed and it remains so until it reaches its destination (this is considered a strength of container shipping and not a weakness - less "falling off the back of the truck" sort of thing).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nick Ives (317)

      No, it really is a problem for his suppliers. I brought the site I work on into compliance with EU waste regulations and one of the principles is that waste remains the responsibility of the producer. If the Waste Transfer Notes for the shipments said the containers were full of recyclable plastic then the person who shipped the waste in good faith isn't liable.

      Given the volume of waste involved then this looks like a screw-up at a waste management company somewhere. Quite how they could've mixed up plastic

  • by bobdotorg (598873) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:25PM (#28743547)

    I hear that the Port of Buenos Aires was sent 31 shipping containers of British food.

    • by Aggrajag (716041)
      Brits eat waste?
      • by bobdotorg (598873) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:32PM (#28743607)

        Brits eat waste?

        Yes. Although they sometimes call it pudding.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Only if they've eaten their meat beforehand.
        • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:26PM (#28743931) Homepage

          Reminds me of the old saw:
          Heaven - Where the police are British, the lovers Italian, the chefs French, the cars German, all organized by the Swiss.
          Hell - Where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the chefs British, the cars French, all organized by the Italians.

          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Reality - Where the police are Traffic Analyzers, the lovers Video Clips, the chefs Pizza boys, the cars Public Transport, all organized by Linus.

          • The British police aren't heaven anymore. Seen the news coming from there recently?

            • by Ash-Fox (726320)

              The British police aren't heaven anymore. Seen the news coming from there recently?

              Considering how publicized any single missdeed the British police does and how many restrictive controls are in place to prevent abuse. It is my opinion that due to the organisational structure and public participation, that the British police are still one of the best police forces in the world.

              • by Nick Ives (317)

                You're wrong. The cops who murdered that Brazilian electrician on the tube because they mistakenly assumed he was a terrorist got away scot free. There was also that killing during the G20 protests about which little will be done.

                The police in this country are largely unaccountable.

                • by Ash-Fox (726320)

                  The cops who murdered that Brazilian electrician on the tube

                  A incident back in 2005, if I recall correctly, the call for reduction of arms increased even further in the police forces because of that incident.

                  There was also that killing during the G20 protests about which little will be done.

                  I'm not trying to even defend the police with this comment, however I do remember it being more than just a "protest" and a lot of vandalism taking place, including the smashing up of a RBS branch, looting and general vi

          • Kanton Tessin, speaks Italian and __IS__ in Switzerland
      • by sa1lnr (669048)

        "Brits eat waste?"

        It was full of McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut then. ;)

  • by wjh31 (1372867) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:40PM (#28743669) Homepage
    When comming from supermarkets, i believe the correct term for a bag of blood is a black pudding.
    • by JamesP (688957)

      So with used condoms it's a "Special Black Pudding" and it costs twice as much I guess.

      Dumb question, why put these things in a container and ship instead of incinerating??

  • I don't know much about garbage, but 1.400 tons doesn't sound like an enormous number, considering the USA produces 220 milion tons a year [answers.com].
    Plus, it seems like a simple problem of foul play between companies, why does the government get involved?
    I know waste disposal is a huge problem, but this sounds like attention-whoring.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by petermgreen (876956)

      Plus, it seems like a simple problem of foul play between companies, why does the government get involved?
      because at one stage companies in developed countries were pushing thier waste problems on to less developed countries where they were far less likely to be dealt with in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

      It was decided this was a bad thing and so international agreements were signed forbidding it. Someone has broken that agreement and it is now the governments job to punish them for doing so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:14PM (#28743879)

    Since the article does not touch on it, and the information i will be presenting IS related to technology, i will hope that my lack of account (i just don't have one) will not be too much of a hindrance.

    Sending one country's waste to other countries may seem like a fluke, but in fact it's a pretty big illegal industry. PBS FRONTLINE/world did a show on how old computer and technology hardware was being sent to third world countries in bulk and outside of legal channels. For those looking for the connection to 'news for nerds' this is probably as close as you can get. The old hardware is given to recycling companies who then give it to 'other companies' which ship it to third world countries where it's essentially dumped on the poor. Think parts of India, Ghana and China. The citizenry then break/corrode/melt the materials (out of necessity) using extremely toxic and unsafe means in order to sell the various valuable pieces. Furthermore, many of the hardware pieces are still in near working order, things like harddrives specifically can still be hooked up and read accurately (at one point in the show they get a harddrive from one of the dumps and it has a whole album of family photos on it, as well as financial information).

    Anyways, if anyone is interested in how this practice works and why it exists, here is the link to the story as well as the video: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/ghana804/

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hernol (1402569)
      This is how First World countries grow and control the world, by shitting Third World countries. It's a nice article about how UK doesnt give a f*** about other countries. And this is in slashdot because they sent their waste to the "wrong" country, this happens all the time in Africans and poor Asian countries, but you just dont hear of it.
      • by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @12:25AM (#28745779)
        OK, OK, let's clarify something. The UK Govt. did not send this waste to Brazil - if they had it would have ended up in Borneo, but I digress - a private company did.

        Yes, there are rules about this sort of thing, but they are actually relatively difficult to enforce.

        The fact is that some private company in Brazil, probably owned at least in part, by some very senior Brazilian officials, contracted to receive this waste, knowing full well what it contained. They got busted, and of course, claimed innocence.

        "Medical waste, Oh, we thought it was Medical paste, WTF, send this stuff back !"
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        And this is in slashdot because they sent their waste to the "wrong" country, this happens all the time in Africans and poor Asian countries, but you just dont hear of it.

        [Citation needed]

  • We need to start recycling our own waste streams rather than sending to other nations. In particular, we send our electronics to China where they pick out elements from it. Instead, if we would start designing our own recycling plants we could keep the elements HERE.
  • All the good stuff that is being smuggled is under the yucky stuff.
    • by glgraca (105308)

      Brilliant. It probably is cheaper to send an iPhone this way, rather than pay brazilian taxes.

  • People are talking as though the whole of the UK has got together and decided to send their shite to Brazil.
    Though I don't doubt such a plan has its merits, the summary does makes it clear that it was SOME BRAZILIAN OUTFIT that perpetrated the misdeed: "We'll get rid of your waste for you. Don't worry. We have a safe place to put it."

    No propblem. Let Brazil send it back, and let the Brazilians who initiated the wrongdoing take care of it.

    Blame where blame is due, please. :rolls eyes:

    • by KrimZon (912441)

      Next misleading headline: "Brazilian Company Importing 1400 Tons of Hazardous Waste From Brazil Into UK"

  • Condoms were a significant portion of the waste? Enough to be listed in the article? What, do brits have a separate bin for condoms so they can all be collected and recycled somehow? "Wait a tic dear, before we cuddle I gotta go toss this used rubber in the condom bin". Or is there some government agency that goes around filtering all the condoms from the normal rubbish bins of England? Unless they are un-used, expired maybe, this makes little sense to me...

    Tm

  • OK, who put those british supermarket bags in with the south-american waste?
  • For those who want to know:

    A standard 40foot long container (the ones you usually see on flatbed units in Europe) is

    12m long (approx) (exact 12.192m)
    2.5m high (approx) (exact 2.438m)
    2.5m wide (approx) (exact 2.591m)

    volume is 67.5 cubic meters
    and can hold a dry max volume of 26,600kg (26.6tons)

    So it would appear that someone filled up 50 odd containers with mixed non-shippable waste.

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