It's been less than a week since news went public of Chevron's latest oil spill off the coast of Brazil, its second in less than 6 months, but troubles for the oil company and the environment are clearly escalating. Although early reports from Chevron sought to downplay the severity of the deepwater leak as an infrequent drip, a recent flyover of site by the Brazilian officials shows that the oil slick has already reached about 1 kilometer in length.
Over the weekend, a federal judge ordered that 17 Chevron employees involved in this latest incident to surrender their passports, effectively forcing them to remain in the country as to face prosecution for various crimes against nature, reports the Associated Press.
Brazilian prosecutors said Saturday they will file criminal charges against 17 executives of Chevron Corp. and drilling contractor Transocean Ltd. for a new oil leak near the offshore well where at about 416,000 litres spilled late last year.
Those targeted include George Buck, chief operating officer for Chevron's Brazilian division, federal prosecutors' spokesman Marcelo del Negri said by telephone.
He said prosecutors would file the charges including "environmental crimes" in a federal court next week, but he did not provide further details.
To add to an already trying situation for Chevron, the company is still reeling from the consequences resulting from another oil leak just last year in which as much as 3,000 barrels of oil were loosed into the waters off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The company is expected to be fined over $100 million.
In light of the this most recent leak, the rate of which has yet to be disclosed, Chevron has suspended its drilling operations in the oil-rich Frade Field, 200 miles from the Brazilian mainland, as they investigate its cause and develop a way to stop it.