On October 23, 2013, the Brazilian Federal Government enacted Decree No. 8,127 (“Decree”), which has introduced the long-awaited National Contingency Plan (“NCP”) for oil pollution incidents in waters under Brazilian jurisdiction. The consolidation of the NCP has been expected since 2000, pursuant to the Oil Act, and the delay in its implementation gained importance due to the occurrence of an environmental incident in the Campos Basin, at the end of 2011.
The Decree sets forth several provisions to define the organizational structure and responsibilities of entities connected with the NCP, seeking to establish a cooperation framework to reduce the response time for incidents with significant environmental impacts. Among the entities within the structure of the NCP, the Evaluation and Monitoring Group is the most important. It comprises representatives of the Navy, the Federal Environmental Agency (IBAMA) and the National Oil Agency (ANP), and it is responsible for assessing whether an incident is of national relevance, in which case the NCP is to be triggered.
The Decree provides that the NCP Manual must be prepared by the government within six months. It is a technical document describing in detail the operating procedures and the human and material resources required to implement the actions for responding to incidents. Furthermore, the Decree also provides for an informational system on oil pollution incidents in waters under Brazilian jurisdiction, the Sisnóleo, to be developed within eighteen months. The main objective of the system is the real-time consolidation and publication of geographic information on prevention, preparedness and response to oil pollution incidents in waters under Brazilian jurisdiction.
Lastly, the Decree establishes several obligations that may be demanded from polluters in cases of oil pollution incidents, such as the protection of environmentally sensitive areas, wildlife rescue and environmental monitoring of the affected areas.
Despite the undeniable progress connected with the new Decree, the fact is there are still steps to be taken so that NCP can be fully operational, such as the preparation of the NCP Manual and the implementation of the Sisnóleo.