By Agence France-Presse
A small amount of oil from a spill that has soiled a long stretch of Brazil’s coast since the summer was detected in Rio de Janeiro state, the navy said Saturday.
With the spill moving southward, 300 grams of oil were found in the sand on a beach in the town of Sao Joao da Barra, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s tourism capital.
The patches of oil began appearing in early September and have turned up along a 2,000 kilometer stretch of Atlantic coastline.
“The samples analyzed are compatible with the oil found on the northeast coast,” the navy said in a statement.
The spill, the scale of which is still unknown, started tarnishing beaches in Paraiba state in late August.
It has since spread dramatically and reached Espirito Santo state, which neighbors Rio.
Workers and volunteers wearing rubber gloves are racing against time to clear beaches ahead of the country’s peak tourism season.
Thousands of military personnel have also been dispatched to help clean up the oil that has killed dozens of animals, including turtles.
It also reached a humpback whale sanctuary off Bahia state, which has some of the country’s richest biodiversity.
It is the third major environmental disaster to strike Brazil this year.
In recent months fires ravaged the Amazon rainforest and in January a mine dam collapsed in the southeast, spewing millions of tons of toxic waste across the countryside.
Early this month, the government named a Greek-flagged tanker as the “prime suspect” for being the source of the oil slicks.
The ship, “Bouboulina”, took on oil in Venezuela and was headed for Singapore, it said.
The tanker’s operators have denied the vessel was to blame.