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Brazilian Prosecutors Accuse Chevron, Transocean of ‘Environmental Crime’ over Frade Spill

Federal prosecutors in Brazil have accused US oil giant Chevron, drilling contractor Transocean and 17 executives with environmental crime in connection with the November 2011 Frade spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

According to Agence France-Presse, Rio de Janeiro state prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira said the spill, in which 416,400 liters of oil were released into the Atlantic Ocean, was caused by a lack of respect for safety procedures.

De Oliveira said the spill “affected the entire marine ecosystem, which could lead to the extinction of species, as well as the region’s economic activities.”

Prosecutors allege that George Buck, president of Chevron’s Brazilian operations, and three other company officials “sought to frustrate the work of the prosecution by presenting a misleading emergency plan” and by “altering documents shown to the authorities.”

The prosecutors have called for a bail of $550,000 for each person accused and $5.5 million per company.

“These measures aim to ensure that the accused, most of them foreigners, do not leave the country,” de Oliveira said. “The sum for the fines will not be returned and will be used to pay for the damage caused.”

Prosecutors are seeking sentences as long as 31 years, 10 months for five of the 17 accused.

Chevron called the charges “outrageous” and “without merit.”

“Once the facts are fully examined, they will demonstrate that Chevron and its employees responded appropriately and responsibly to the incident. Chevron will vigorously defend the company and its employees.”

“There is no technical or factual evidence demonstrating any willful or negligent conduct by Chevron or its employees associated with the incident,” the company added.

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