News / Americas

Fire Engulfs Up to 300,000 Tons of Sugar at Brazil Port

Four warehouses with sugar burn in flames at the port of Santos, the biggest of Latin America, some 60 km of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct.18, 2013.
Four warehouses with sugar burn in flames at the port of Santos, the biggest of Latin America, some 60 km of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Oct.18, 2013.
A fire on Friday destroyed up to 300,000 tons of sugar and much of the Santos Port warehouses owned by Copersucar, the world's largest trader of the sweetener, the port authority of Santos said.
Copersucar says nearly a fifth of the world's sea-borne sugar trade flows through its trading desks.
ICE March raw sugar prices rose more than six percent to a one-year high on news of the fire, before paring gains. By 8:40 a.m. ET the contract was up three percent at 19.58 cents per lb.
“Three warehouses were destroyed by the fire and we are trying to control the fire now in a fourth,” said a representative for the fire department in Santos, adding that four people were hurt.
Copersucar has six warehouses with capacity to hold 50,000-100,000 tons each at the Santos port, the world's main source of raw sugar shipments. Copersucar officials said they had no additional information about the containment and damage of the blaze beyond what the fire department has reported.
Live television footage showed a three-story high mountain of sugar engulfed in flames inside a warehouse that had lost most of its siding and roof to the flames.
Some of the overhanging conveyor belts that transport sugar between the warehouses and eventually to waiting ships at the terminal in Santos appeared to have toppled over or were lying on the pavement alongside some of the warehouse.
Brazil is at the tail end of a record 585 million ton center-south cane harvest that is expected to produce 34 million tons of sugar. Roughly 15 percent of the crop remains to be crushed.
In June, Copersucar had inaugurated an expansion  project at Santos that doubled its export capacity to 10 million tons a year.
Copersucar represents 47 sugar mills in Brazil and recorded revenues of $4.1 billion in 2012. The company had hoped in June to expand its trading volume to nine million tons from 7.2 million tons in 2012.
Codesp, which manages the day-to-day operations at Santos, said the fire broke out shortly after 6:00 a.m. local time (0900 GMT), after which a ship berthed at the terminal was removed.
The fire appeared to have been preceded by an explosion, an event not uncommon with bulk commodities like grains or sugar. The dust and gasses emitted by such bulk commodities are extremely combustible.
When large stockpiles of sugar catch fire, it can be extremely difficult to extinguish the fire quickly. As the sugar burns it create a carbonized outer shell as the fire burns into the center of the mound that inhibits the penetration of water and chemicals that would otherwise snuff out the blaze.
Firefighters will also have the challenge of dealing with subterranean passages that connect some of Copersucar's warehouses and through which sugar is transported.
Fabrienne Pointier at data provider Platts said the loss of the large volume of sugar is not as bad as the damage the fire has done to Copersucar's infrastructure at Santos.
“The real significance is that it is going to slow down the logistics. It's going to be many months to rebuild those warehouses,” Pointier said.
Michael McDougal at sugar trader Newedge estimated it might take six months to get operations at the terminal back up and running.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Guatemala Landslide Death Toll Tops 220; Another 350 Missing

Loosened by heavy rains, hillside collapsed onto Santa Catarina Pinula on southeastern flank of Guatemala City October 1, burying scores of homes

Report: More Than 58,000 Violent Deaths Last Year in Brazil

Annual report on public security says number of violent deaths up nearly 5 percent last year from 2013, when country suffered a then high of 55,000 such deaths

UN Launches Review of Possible Corruption

Audit will look at interaction between world body and two organizations that US prosecutors have accused of bribing a former top UN official

US to Publish Records on Chile 1976 Assassination

Orlando Letelier was killed, along with his American co-worker Ronni Moffitt, by a car bomb in the center of Washington

US Official: Ending Cuba Embargo Will Take Time

Commerce Secretary wraps up visit to communist-ruled island saying both sides need to learn more about each other as they work to improve relations

Missing Cargo Ship’s Recorder Sought for Clues

Officials say El Faro's voyage data recorder, similar to 'black box' on aircraft, would provide a wealth of data on what befell the ship and the 33 people aboard