Petrobras charged with crimes in refinery oil spill


RIO DE JANEIRO -- State-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, and two managers have been charged with environmental crimes related to an oil spill at the company's Reduc refinery, the federal prosecutor's office said Monday.

The oil leak contaminated the Iguacu River, Guanabara Bay and swamps surrounding the refinery with oil, residues and chemicals, the prosecutor's office said.

Petrobras; Antonio Cesar de Aragao Paiva, the refinery's water and waste treatment manager; and Carla Muniz Gamboa, the refinery's environmental protection manager, were also charged with interfering with an investigation conducted by Rio de Janeiro state environmental regulators.

Petrobras didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Earlier this month, the head of the federal police environmental crimes unit in Rio de Janeiro, Fabio Scliar, said in an interview that he had completed an investigation into wastewater discharge at the refinery.

The months-long investigation uncovered evidence that water contaminated with heavy metals and other pollutants had been released into the river.

At the time, Petrobras denied the allegations. All contaminated water produced during the refining process is treated and discarded according to law, the company said on Sept. 6.

Mr. Scliar also said his investigation raised questions about how Petrobras treats and discards water produced along with oil at offshore platforms.

Evidence of potential irregularities with treatment of the wastewater was also forwarded to the federal prosecutor's office, which plans to open a civil inquiry, Mr. Scliar said at the time.

Petrobras said at the time that wastewater produced on platforms is treated and discarded in accordance with Brazilian laws.

Dow Jones Newswires

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