Thursday night, a blackout hit the Brazilian northeastern states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe. The length of time the blackout lasted varied from state to state, lasting longest in Rio Grande do Norte, where the lights were out between midnight and 4:00 am, local time.
The exact cause of the outage is not known, but there was a problem at a substation on the border between Pernambuco and Bahia. Almost immediately, six transmission lines closed down and as a result three power plants in the region were automatically turned off.
At that point, the national system isolated and closed down the Northeast region in order to avoid a bigger problem on the national grid.
The São Francisco River Hydroelectric Company (“Chesf”) is responsible for the electricity supply in the region and could be fined if it is found that it could have avoided the blackout.
The Rio de Janeiro state Highway Department (DER) says that it will cost 293 million reais (US$ 176 million) to repair roads in the mountainous region (região serrana) where rainfall, floods and mudslides on mid January killed over 850 people and left around 15,000 without shelter.
According to the president of the DER, Henrique Ribeiro, the repair work is considered “emergency” and is to be completed in six months. The priorities are the following highways: RJ-134, which connects the district of Posse, in Petrópolis, to Teresópolis, and runs through São José do Vale do Rio Preto; RJ-130 (Teresópolis-Nova Friburgo); RJ-148, which goes from Nova Friburgo to Carmo, through Sumidouro; RJ-150 (Nova Friburgo-Bom Jardim); and RJ-142, which connects the district of Muri, in Nova Friburgo, to Casimiro de Abreu, in the region known as Baixadas Litorâneas.
The European Parliament has ratified an agreement that will put an end to the so-called “banana war,” that has lasted for 16 years. The agreement will reduce heavy surtaxes on bananas from Latin America (by the year 2017) and the preferential treatment given to bananas from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
For years the Europeans have preferred bananas from other countries (many of them former colonies), although 75% of the bananas consumed came from Latin America (including Brazil).