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 March 22, 2012
New Oil Spill in Brazil

 A fresh oil spill off the Brazilian coasts highlights once again the environmental dangers of offshore drilling.

The spill was reported by Brazil's oil regulator ANP, which yesterday released a note saying there was an accident in the same region of Chevron's oil spill last November. The spill took place in a deep-sea field called Frade, 230 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

The leak reported this week is likely to be coming from deep sea fissures and not from Chevron's well that was abandoned after last year's accident. ANP did not say how much oil has leaked, but highlighted it was a "small" amount. Chevron was fined again for failing to put in place safety measures to avoid so-called exudations, that is, leaks from seabed fissures.

Oil spills like these are a stark reminder that we need to switch to clean and safe alternative energy. While an overnight transition is unlikely to happen, offshore drilling is a very risky operation and endangers ocean ecosystems. The impression observers get is that no one really knows how to deal with accidents.