The Daily Telegraph

Brazil set to dump toxic aircraft carrier at the bottom of the ocean

- By Vivian Song in Paris

BRAZIL’S new Left-wing government has come under fire for plans to sink a decommissi­oned aircraft carrier described as a “30,000-ton toxic package” to the bottom of the Atlantic.

The former aircraft carrier Foch served as the French navy’s flagship for 37 years, being deployed everywhere from Africa to the Middle East from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Brazil bought it in 2000 for $12million (£9.8million) and later sold it to a Turkish company in 2021 for $1.8 million (£1.5million) as scrap. But amid warnings about the dangerous levels of asbestos, mercury and other toxic waste aboard the ship, Turkey last summer denied it permission to dock in its ports.

For the past few months, the former warship – described by French environmen­tal group Robin des Bois as a “30,000-ton toxic package” – has been towed around the seas in search of a port of refuge, but there have been no takers.

Brazil’s navy and defence ministry said they are left with no choice but to scuttle the vessel, which has a damaged hull and is taking on water.

“In light of the deteriorat­ing buoyancy of the hull and the inevitabil­ity of a spontaneou­s, uncontroll­ed sinking, there is no option but to jettison it in a planned, controlled sinking,” the defence ministry said.

The navy plans to sink the ship 215 miles off the Brazilian coast in water 16,400 ft deep. It is not yet known when.

Environmen­talists have accused the country’s navy of “gross negligence”.

“If they proceed with dumping the very toxic vessel into the wilderness of the Atlantic Ocean, they will violate the terms of three internatio­nal environmen­tal treaties and do so for no good reason,” said Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network.

He urged President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – who took office last month vowing to reverse surging environmen­tal destructio­n under far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro – to immediatel­y halt the “dangerous” plan.

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