Brazil has returned to the United States 46.6 tons of hospital waste that had been intercepted last October in the northeastern state of Pernambuco by customs agents, the Freight Terminal at the port of Suape said Sunday.
The waste was shipped to the U.S. port of Charleston, South Carolina, on board a cargo vessel that set sail Saturday evening from Suape, a municipality near Recife, the capital of Pernambuco, the official in charge of the port’s freight operations, Fernando Lucato, told reporters.
The hospital waste cargo consists of sheets, pillowcases, towels, used syringes, various hospital masks and tubes bearing the logos of U.S. hospitals.
The port of Pecém in Brazil’s impoverished Northeast region received a large order to unload and store cement factory equipment imported from China. The port authorities were unable to accept the original order, as the cargo would have occupied 40,000 square metres of storage space, nearly half the total available.
The order, which arrived a month ago, is still under consideration, and the director of deployment and expansion for the Pecém terminal, Hernani de Carvalho Junior, has devised a practical solution. He recommends the equipment be delivered in two lots, with the second being unloaded after the first has left the port storage space.
The large order is highly unusual, but it is a sign of the industrialisation taking place in the semiarid Northeast, Brazil’s poorest region. Many industrial investments have been attracted by new ports designed also as manufacturing and energy production hubs.
Over the past decade, Brazil has lifted 20 million people out of poverty through a mix of well-funded social programs and careful economic stewardship, creating a burgeoning consumer class that has helped make the country the world’s seventh-largest economy.
The industrial complex and port here is a showcase of the region’s economic might, employing 55,000 workers and attracting billions in investments. But a couple of miles down the road, Netildes Delvina Soares, 47, lives “with much suffering,” as she put it, in a wood-plank hut without plumbing or electricity.
Though traditionally poor, Brazil’s northeast is now home to the country’s fastest growing regional economy, making the disparity between prosperity and extreme poverty more visible than anywhere else. And it is here where the country’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, has set her sights on an ambitious goal: eradicating indigence, defined as those earning less than $45 a month.