Local environmental activists got busy at the weekend, with the help of SpongeBob SquarePants, to lobby oil giant BP to stop drilling in a sensitive area off the coast of Brazil.
Croydon Greenpeace were collecting signatures on a petition and encouraging by-passers to sign postcards to send to Bob Dudley, the CEO of BP, demanding that they abandon plans to drill for oil in the mouth of the Amazon.
Croydon Greenpeace calls the BP plans to drill near the recently discovered Amazon Reef as “reckless” and “dangerous”.
The reef is believed to be unique. It is hidden below the murky sedimentary waters of the Amazon estuary, so that its ecosystem thrives on chemosynthesis rather than the usual photosynthesis. It is nearly 4,000 sq miles in extent at depths of between 90 and 500 feet, with previously undiscovered marine life and unexplored environment.
Croydon Greenpeace has been running stalls on George Street at East Croydon to inform the public about the little-known and unique reef and BP’s plans.
Greenpeace activists were joined at these stalls by SpongeBob SquarePants, the cartoon character who has been adopted by the environmentalists to symbolise the threat to other sea sponges and corals under BP’s plans.
Scientists have described the reef as being “a biodiversity hotspot on a par with the Great Barrier Reef”, while Greenpeace believe that the oil companies’ environmental assessment of planned drilling has underestimated the risks posed.
The Brazilian Federal Prosecutor’s office has said that BP’s environmental risk assessment “did not take into account the important ecosystem of the coral reef of the mouth of the Amazon River. Thus, exploration in an area close to the corals, without adequate environmental impact study, can cause irreparable damage to this unique and little-known biome”.
More than 1 million have so far signed a petition demanding BP halt their plans. “Scientists have only explored 5 per cent of this unique reef, which may be home to animals and plants new to science,” said Clive Farndon of Croydon Greenpeace.
“But before the reef can even be fully explored and documented, BP want to drill for oil nearby. BP’s drilling puts this unique and largely unexplored reef under threat of an oil spill. This could cause irreparable damage to the reef, and also harm the world’s longest stretch of mangrove forest on the local coastline and the lives and lifestyles of local indigenous people who rely on the mangrove coast line for their fishing and way of life.”
Croydon Greenpeace, accompanied by SpongeBob, presented a petition based on these messages to the manager of BP garage on Mitcham Road, making clear that the local community in Croydon does not support this British company’s plans to endanger one of the world’s most untouched places.
Farndon said, “The people of Croydon have delivered a clear message to BP, and called on them not to risk yet another disastrous oil spill, which could destroy this incredible, unique Reef.”
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