Ministry of Environment
Secretariat for Environmetal Quality
Directorate for Environmental Risk Management
The Symposium on Illegal International Traffic in Hazardous Chemicals
Prague-Průhonice, Czech Republic
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Representative: Mr. Robson José Calixto
I – Introduction
Brazil has impressive dimensions, with 8,547,404 Km2 of territorial space, 8,500
Km of Coastline and 15,735 km of open frontiers, bordering 10 countries (Argentina,
Bolivia, Columbia, French Guyana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and
The economy of the country, in terms of contributions to the Gross Domestic
Product (GDP), is concentrated in the following sectors: manufacturing (35,60%) of the
GDP in 1999), agricultural and livestock (8,19%), services (49,11%) and retail (7,10%).
From October 2005 to September 2006, Brazil exported US$ 47,180 billions in
agribusiness, being a key player in agricultural trade, specially soy, coffee, sugar, orange,
exotic fruits, and for that reason demanding agrochemicals.
The Internet-Based Foreign Trade Information Analysis System (ALICE-Web)
run by the Ministry of Development, Trade and Foreign Trade (MDIC)’s Foreign Trade
Secretariat (SECEX), was set up to modernize access and systematize publication of
statistics relating to Brazilian imports and exports. The system makes available monthly
databases since January 1989. Access to ALICE-Web is presently free and users can
consult it by product, country of origin and of destination, economic bloc, Federal Unit
(State), reducing zone and fiscal domicile, means of transport and port where the product
was loaded and unloaded.
Brazil has a very strong frame for combating illegal traffic related to fraud and
smuggling of hazardous chemicals and wastes, but despite the actions adopted by the
Federal Authorities, the illegal traffic is still a problem due to, mainly, actions from
exporters who get past the foreign trade information analysis system, and the length of its
II – The Status on Hazardous Chemicals and Types of Hazardous Waste Being
Subject to Illegal International Trade
Hazardous wastes traded illegally to Brazil, nowadays, are heavy metals (Lead,
Zinc, Copper and Cadmium) exported under a common name of the Southern Common
Market – MERCOSUR1 for use as micronutrients (see Table below), in fact frauds of the
foreign trade information analysis system. Scrap metals also appears. Both are
contraventions under the Basel Convention, ratified in 1990 by Brazil, as well as, under
Responsible Date the Major Country of Transit States
Wastes Arrived Constituents Origin
Reno 29 September Zinc and Copper Italy Spain - Exporter
Distribuidora de 2003
Sabre Com. 25 November Zinc and Lead Guatemala France -
Imp. Exp. Ltda 2003 Exporter
Alfa Comercio 14 April 2004 Zinc and Lead Mexico No transit State
Exterior (+ Cadmium)
Source: Report presented by Brazil to the Secretariat of the Basel Convention in 2005.
The wastes were seized by the Brazilian Internal Revenue Service.
As Brazil also imports agrochemicals is victim of illegal traffic due to the length
of its frontier. The illegal products are transported in envelopes or plastic bags, with
labels in spanish, with 10-200 Grs, generally hidden, in lorries, private cars, boats and
ships, buses and small aircrafts (the biggest volumes). On August 2006, the Brazilian
Federal Police seized 6,52 tonnes of herbicides and insecticides (Clorimuron,
Tebuconazole, Imidacloprid), hidden in lorries at a price of US$ 2,26 million2, around.
Fines applied by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and the Renewable Natural
Resources – IBAMA ranges from US$ 235 to US$ 935,000.
It is important to point out that the illicit acts cover a wide range of possibilities
and the fraud reaches up uses at small and medium sized enterprises (CFC, battery
carcass and micronutrients), household (detergent, disinfectant), used tyres. On this
regard is not fair to affirm that the fakes come just from abroad or overseas, since some
national gangs with illegal localized labs can act manipulating chemical products of
unknown origin, producing and selling real poisons (in general herb and bug killers).
Brazil actively participates in international accords and conventions related to
chemicals management, as well as meetings with experts and specific programs, such as
Global Mercury Evaluation and International Strategic Approach to Chemicals
Details in Section IV.
US$ 1 ~ Brazil Reals 2,14.
Management, coordinated by the Chemicals Unit of the United Nations Environment
The illegal chemicals are covered by the Stockholm Convention (POPs), the
Montreal Protocol (CFC) and the Rotterdam Conventions (pesticides) as well and Brazil
ratified them in 1990, 1993 and 2005.
Brazil has a core of authorities to rule and control the entrance of this kind of
product, led by Ministry of Agriculture, always hearing the environmental and health
federal authorities. MMA is the central body and the hub of the Brazilian National
Environmental System (Sisnama). It is responsible, among other matters, for national
environmental and water-resource policies; for putting forward strategies, mechanisms
and economic and social instruments to improve the quality of the environment and
natural resources; and for policies to integrate industrial production and the environment.
Sisnama works by coordinating the bodies and entities that comprise it, and ensures that
public opinion has access to information on environmental damage and environmental
protection. The States, Federal District and Municipalities are responsible for drafting
supplementary standards and norms, and can establish parameters for the emission of
pollutants, given that the federal legislation is observed.
III – Effects and Impacts of the Illegal Acts
Concern with trade of chemicals principally include controls over the large
volumes of substances in circulation; control over imports and exports of substances,
products and wastes, to meet legal requirements; and the difficulties in obeying transport
legislation. Illegal cargos are dangerous due to the risks involved, specially
agrochemicals. Any leak or any unintentional dispersion can mean water resources and
soils contaminated, ordinary people in danger, drivers poisoned, residual, acute and
chronicle effets on non-target species; and the animals fell victim to the prohibited
products. But the damage does not stay limited to human health aspects and
environmental crime. Smugglers act to the detriment of the Fisco, not paying taxes due.
They act against job generation; against legal and registered industries/activities with
quality control and ISO certification. They enable high risk of production loss because
products have low quality and low efficiency for agriculture. Safety equipments are not
known or used. It’s difficult to assign the correct antidote. Smugglers hold the profits, the
State effected hold the prejudices.
IV – Gathering Information
The foreign trade information analysis system, called ALICE-Web, made
available by the Foreign Trade Secretariat (SECEX) of the Development, Industry and
Foreign Trade Ministry (MDIC), was developed to modernize access and dissemination
methods for Brazilian import and export statistical data. ALICE-Web is updated monthly,
when the trade balance is released, and is based on data obtained from the Integrated
Foreign Trade System (SISCOMEX), a system which manages Brazilian foreign trade.
Access to ALICE-Web is free. Users need to fill out a registration form and receive a
Even with the SISCOMEX, which represents a powerful tool, the frauds happen
because the exporters get past the forms passed on.
V - Existing measure to address illegal international
traffic in hazardous chemicals and waste
Brazil participates in the initiative o illegal traffic by IFCS, Basel, Stockholm and
Rotterdam Conventions and the Montreal Protocol, but it does not receive any financial
support from international fund because there is no line in connection within GEF for this
kind of action.
Brazil has a very powerful legal frame to tackle the illegal international traffic in
hazardous chemicals and waste, specially the Agrochemicals Act (Law No. 7802/1989),
SISCOMEX Act (Decree No. 660/1992), Fisco Act (Law No. 9430/1996), Environmental
Crime Act (Law No. 9605/1998) and the country is Party of treaties as Basel, Stockholm
and Rotterdam Conventions, Montreal Protocol, MARPOL and London Dumping
Convention, enough to control the problem.
The Multilateral Environmental Agreements are reference for many actions,
enforcement missions and new regulations, including resolutions from the Environmental
National Council – CONAMA and the legal frame for the transportation of dangerous
goods, but certainly awareness raising campaigns and capacity building generalized
would be important to stregthen and amplify the activities of hazardous chemicals and
waste control in action.
Actions in the frontier regions are systematicaly in place during the year and
missions of inspection occur with Police (Federal and Local Level) and technicians from
health, environmental and agricultural authorities working together. Within the Mercosur
region activities in close connection with the neighbouring authorities also take place.
Actions against privacy as well as illegal imports are implemented in close liaisons. The
own IBAMA beyond its duties regarding the analysis of the potential for environmental
dangerous, it has a unity to deal with illegal traffic on agrochemicals.
In spite of the efforts and actions carried out together, there are discrepancies at
regional level due to different conceptions and technical and legal requirements, i.e., the
approaches are too assymetricals. Criteria and standards on toxicity, ecotoxicity, physical
and chemical characteristics are not the same ones. But it is necessary to emphasise the
problem of illegal traffic exists in all regions of the world.
VI - Other means than legislation to minimize illegal traffic in
hazardous chemicals and waste
For instance, IBAMA has Executive Agencies and there are Agricultural Regional
Offices and Environmental Secretariats at State and Municipal levels which organize
awareness raising campaigns on the possible negative effects of using illegally imported
chemicals, their environmental risks. The same is executed by the SINDAG. Outdoors,
folders and booklets are used in campaigns as well as a “0800” number for reports.
Agricultural Regional Offices and the Technical Assistance and Rural Extension
State Institutes - EMATERs are extension officers in agriculture, offering technical
assistance and rural extension, with the aims, inter alia:
to develope and implement formation, capacity building and training of the rural
worker; vegetal and animal sanitary defense;
to contribute for the sustaintability of the economical, social and environmental
agricultural productive systems.
That kind of entity helps out in inspections, advising in how to storage pesticides,
use and disposal of the the products and their used bottles, safe applications methods and
personal protection, care with health and environment, plague control.
Then, they are useful mechanisms to supportive actions against illegal traffic,
contributing for the campaigns and inspections on ports, airports, roads and frontiers, and
pest control as well, beyond the SISCOMEX. But the network needs to be enhanced,
using the media as a partner.
VII – Capacity Building Needs
Training and capacity building are always at the top of the priorities in any
Agenda to detect illegal import and export. The development of a training package would
be a powerful and a replicable mean to disseminate know how and knowledge on
technics for combating the activity at different scales, encompassing professionals from
customs, health, environmental and agricultural authorities. The dissemination and use of
customs risk profiles and material safety sheets as official means of identifying probable
cases of illegal traffic would be very important. International and national seminars
would also be special occasions to discuss the problems related to the illegal traffic and
how to optimize the efforts to combat it, serving as fora for improving coordination at the
national level and strengthen policy integration tranverse sectors, including the
development of partnerships with the private sector, NGOs and other relevant
stakeholders. The multiple efforts would serve as core business for future networks,
information exchange. A concrete Clearing House mechanism should be established, not
only to support the data base and system on toxicity and similar criteria, but to enable the
access information on the main illicit acts, records, who trafficks, news on seizures,
products and their hazards, sources, volumes, qualified sellers and so on.
VIII – What needs to be done at the international level?
Trafficking of hazardous substances and waste and products containing hazardous
wastes is a concern of the agencies controlling imports and monitoring the environment.
Legislation must be enforced, and border control and information support systems must
be improved. In the specific case of residues, the ratification and implementation of the
amendment to the Basel Convention which addresses prohibiting the export of toxic
waste from developed countries to developing countries must be sped up. IFCS
recommend that progress should be made in the following areas:
National legislation and enforcement programmes;
Capacity to detect illegal import and export;
Resources and operational mechanisms for technical assistance for developing
countries with economies in transition;
The extent of illegal traffic at international, regional, sub regional, and national
levels, and the assessment of its impact at these levels;
The extent of coordination and cooperation among all stakeholders;
How international conventions related to the sound management of chemicals and
national laws may be more effectively applied to the transboundary movements of
Main Source: Brazilian Chemicals Management Profile – 2003, National Commission on
Chemical Safety – CONASQ.