Meanwhile, the environmental campaign was getting stronger. Days after leaving the ship, Turkish officials asked their Brazilian counterparts to take a new inventory of the hazardous materials. Unsatisfied with the response, Turkish officials revoked the import permit.
The ship and its tug, which had by that time reached Gibraltar, had to turn back. Environmental groups see it as a huge victory.
But Sao Paulo’s journey isn’t over yet. As she approached Brazil in October, the Navy ordered her to stay off the northeast coast rather than return to Rio de Janeiro, her port of departure.
At that point, after two transatlantic crossings, the ship needed to be docked for maintenance. But the environmental campaign seems to have worked very well. Terrified local officials in Brazil pressured the ports not to take the ship, and it was repeatedly refused. The Navy never introduced its own rules, for reasons officials never explained. So, the ship and the tug began to make circles.
Months passed, and as minor hull damage began to appear, MSK Maritime Services & Trading, partner in the recycling project with Sok Denizcilik, became desperate. The company needed a port to repair the damage, and the tugboat was taking 20 tons of fuel a day. By January, MSK reported that it had lost $5 million on the project.
Environmental groups said they were baffled that the Navy would not recover the ship and refused to explain why it would not. Under the Basel Convention, countries are required to re-import toxic waste that they are unable to successfully export. Activists say Brazil is violating the agreement by not allowing the ship to dock. Officials deny this on the grounds that the ship is in Brazilian waters.
The Brazilian Navy did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article. in Prepared statementShe said that although she is not the owner of the ship, she has followed the case with interest and that the owners of the ship have not yet met the requirements for a mooring permit.
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