Compensation for Petrobras oil in PR remains undefined – 05/12/2024 – Environment

Compensation for Petrobras oil in PR remains undefined – 05/12/2024 – Environment
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Around R$900 million deposited by Petrobras to compensate for a large oil spill that occurred 24 years ago in Araucária (PR), in the Curitiba region, remains on hold, awaiting an agreement between the government of Paraná and the Public Ministry.

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The conflict, which is being arbitrated by the Federal Court of Paraná, is related to the practical application of the money and has been going on since the beginning of 2022. That year, the state Public Ministry began to contest part of the spending plan drawn up by government bodies in Paraná. Paraná —the IAT (Institute of Water and Land) and Sedest (Secretariat of State for Sustainable Development and Tourism).

For prosecutors, the funds must be used in special projects linked to the recovery of the environment or the conservation of the Atlantic forest. The state government, however, set aside money to, for example, buy garbage collection trucks, an expense that, in the view of members of the Public Ministry, should be absorbed by the day-to-day budget.

In 2022, already counting on the compensation money, the IAT purchased 373 vehicles (box trucks, septic tank trucks, water tankers, among others) at a total cost of more than R$100 million. The Public Prosecutor’s Office contested the purchase and, since then, the discussion about the use of the money has been held in Federal Court.

The compensation money is the result of a TAJ (Judicial Agreement) signed after the spill of approximately 4 million liters of oil on July 16, 2000, during an operation between Repar (Getúlio Vargas Refinery), located in Araucária, and a maritime terminal in São Francisco do Sul (SC).

The rupture of the oil pipeline contaminated the soil, reached the Iguaçu and Barigui rivers, caused the death of animals and went down in history as one of the biggest environmental disasters involving the oil company.

The TAJ was signed at the end of 2021 by Petrobras in the context of civil actions to bring closure to the episode in the second instance — the company had already been condemned for the oil spill in 2013, in the first instance.

The agreement was approved by the TRF-4 (Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region) and, among other points, it was defined that Petrobras would pay compensation of almost R$1.4 billion, which the company complied with. Part of the money (33.34%) was allocated to the Fund for the Defense of Diffuse Rights, regulated by federal law.

The remaining portion (66.66%), equivalent to more than R$900 million, would be made available to Fema (State Environmental Fund), linked to the Paraná government. The fate of this amount, however, is what has placed the state government and the Public Ministry on opposite sides. Entities linked to environmental protection also follow the topic.

Last month, the Federal Court ordered the parties to present new proposals for the use of the money. A new hearing will take place at the beginning of July to analyze the projects.

The report contacted the Public Ministry, which declined to be interviewed to comment on the case.

The state government, in a statement, said that it “understands that the allocation of resources from the Petrobras fine for environmental projects followed the terms of the agreement reached with the Court.”

“The state also presented other environmental projects at the April conciliation meeting and awaits the definition of the group established to continue the application of resources for the benefit of new generations”, continues the note.

Just like the Public Ministry, Amar (Araucária Environmental Defense Association), one of the entities involved in the issue since the accident in 2000, also sees the risk of misuse of the money and fears the electoral use of the funds, such as distribution of vehicles to allied mayors.

“The state of Paraná wanted to use the money to solve its structural problems. But it is a money that is linked to environmental damage. It cannot be used for any type of thing”, says Amar’s lawyer, Ernesto Dal Vitt Neto.

The entity understands that there was a lack of popular participation in the construction of the TAJ and defends that the money be used to protect the Iguaçu river basin, directly affected by the accident in 2000.

“I received a call at 5 am reporting a serious accident. We lost our way, we didn’t know what to do”, recalls Amar’s president, Lídia Lucaski, who helped save birds drenched in oil and still gets emotional when remembering the episode.

“The oil was flowing at the speed of streams. And the Iguaçu River, despite being polluted, was shiny. Then suddenly the river became cloudy, the shine disappeared”, she says.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Compensation Petrobras oil remains undefined Environment

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