Still Without an Explanation Brazil Government Refuses to Talk About Blackout

Blackout in EspÀ­rito Santo, Brazil For Brazil's chief of staff and hand-picked candidate to succeed president Lula, minister Dilma Roussef, the massive 18-state blackout suffered by Brazil Tuesday night cannot be compared to what happened in 2001, during the administration of the previous president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

"Brazil today is completely different from that Brazil that suffered eight months of rationing. First, we have more than enough energy. At that time there wasn't enough energy, there was rationing."

The minister is in favor of an inquiry to find out who is responsible for the power failure. She wants the Brazilian energy authority, Aneel to investigate what happened: "Why is it important that Aneel look into this? Aneel is going to punish. If it discovers who is responsible, its duty is to punish."

Roussef stated, however, that she would not quarrel about the blackout causes. "I'm not getting into this kind of polemic. I'm not interested in that. You cannot politicize something so serious for the country", she argued.

"I'm not going to comment on what the opposition is saying.
The day before the governor of São Paulo, José Serra, likely her main opponent in the presidency race in next year's elections blamed the Lula administration and their lack of investment in the energy sector for the huge blackout.

Earlier the minister of Mines and Energy,  Edison Lobão, had said there was nothing to add to the episode. "Our system is completely recovered. For the government, this episode is closed," he stated.
 
"We looked for the cause of the problem," he added, "and we found a fast solution. The system is reliable and robust. This subject is finished."

On Tuesday, he had blamed lightnings, rain and strong winds for the blackout. Brazil's National Institute of Space Studies (Inpe), however, concluded that the chances that a meteorolical phenomenon triggered the blackout are very slim. 

The minister of Institutional Relations, Alexandre Padilha, also criticized some members in Congress who wish to summon Rousseff and Lobão to talk abou the power failure.

"The important thing is to not politicize a debate like this. We cannot politicize an accident. Any attempt of politicizing this episode is going to last less than the incident itself," said Padilha.

The Energy Ministry's executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, told reporters that the storm took out three transmission lines running from the Itaipu hydroelectric dam on the Brazil-Paraguay border.

Much of the southern half of Brazil, including the three largest cities, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, were without power Tuesday night. All of Paraguay was blacked out for a brief period.

Officials say the Itaipu plant was shut down completely for several hours. The malfunction caused a loss of about 17,000 megawatts to the national electricity grid.

The blackout knocked out traffic signals and subway service, snarling traffic and forced evening commuters to abandon train cars. There were also reports of a spike in robberies on city streets.

But the director of the Brazilian Center for Infrastructure Studies, Adriano Pires, says the problem is that Brazil has failed to maintain its power lines, saying a storm alone should not cause such a massive power outage.

The Itaipu hydroelectric plant, which is the largest operational dam in the world, returned to normal production early Wednesday. It was the first time all generators had to be shut down because the transmission lines were non operational.

Bzz/MP

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