Greenpeace blocks bulker from leaving Brazil for U.S. with cargo of pig iron

Written by Nick Blenkey

anchor protestorsMay 21, 2012 —An unwanted anchor chain accoutrement is preventing a 31,883 dwt bulker from heading for the U.S. from Brazil with a cargo of pig iron. Actor and human rights activist Q’orianka Kilcher has become the latest in a succession of Greenpeace protesters climbed the anchor chain of Clipper Bulk’s Clipper Hope.  

Dressed in a blue all-weather suit, Ms. Kilcher, who played Pocahontas in Terence Malik’s 2006 Oscar nominated “The New World,” is currently sitting 20 ft above the water on a makeshift platform. She is accompanied by fellow activist  27 year old Brazilian Leonor Cristina Silva Souza.

Greenpeace says that new research shows how pig iron is helping to destroy the Amazon rainforest and even contributing to slave labor in the region.

Speaking from the anchor chain, Ms. Kilcher said:

“Things like slavery and illegal logging belong in the history books, but sadly they’re still a problem for people in modern Brazil. I’m sitting on this anchor chain with my fellow activist Leonor because young people like us around the world will inherit the problems that the older generation has left behind.

“People living in the forest are having their home destroyed just to shave a few cents off the price of a new car. It’s time for companies like Ford and GM to get a grip on this problem, and for the Brazilian President to show that she is committed to protecting the Amazon.”

Greenpeace says that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is currently considering whether to veto changes to the country’s forest code that scientists and environmentalists say would lead to an upsurge in deforestation in the Amazon. She has until this Friday to make a decision. Greenpeace and many other groups are urging her to veto the entire new text.

Pig iron is produced by heating iron ore in giant blast furnaces that require huge amounts of wood charcoal to operate. A new Greenpeace report called “Driving Destruction in the Amazon” says that this charcoal is often sourced from rainforest trees and is produced using slave labor. Uncontacted tribes such as the Awa are also under serious threat from the trade.

The pig iron is then exported to the U.S., where it is eventually converted into steel and bought by some of the biggest  auto makers in the world including Ford, GM Mercedes and BMW.

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