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Earth Businesses

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 Bearhouse (1034238) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:30PM (#28743595)

    Because it's a slow news day?
    "News for nerds" my ass...

  • by SteveFoerster (136027) <steve.stevefoerster@com> on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:11PM (#28743859) Homepage

    The Mobro 4000 was a garbage barge that had to cruise back and forth [] between the U.S. and Central America back in the '80s.

  • by funkatron (912521) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:12PM (#28743865)
    You obviously didn't order the mushy peas or the "curry sauce". Tons of flavour, tho probably not to your taste.
  • 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:

  • Re:riiiiight.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @06:15PM (#28744177)

    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).

  • 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 !"
  • Re:riiiiight.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nick Ives (317) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @11:21AM (#28748183)

    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 with hazardous waste (two sets of regulations!) I have no idea. Still, whoever produced the waste (probably several organisations) should be very worried. Waste remains the responsibility of the producer until final disposal!

One has to look out for engineers -- they begin with sewing machines and end up with the atomic bomb. -- Marcel Pagnol