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.
Reuters
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

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

IOC to Test Rio's Olympic Water Venues for Viruses

Decision prompted by Associated Press investigation published last week revealing high counts of viruses directly linked to human sewage in Olympic waters
More

Misery Deepens for Those in Puerto Rico Who Can't Leave

Island's entrenched economic crisis is leading people to either cut their personal spending to the basics or flee to the mainland to search for jobs
More

Outlook Mixed After TPP Talks End

No deal was reached at what was intended to be the concluding round last week in Hawaii; Elections are approaching in Canada, US
More

Mexican Journalists Protest After Colleague's Killing

Activists say 34 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992, making it the 10th deadliest country for reporters
More

Canada’ Harper Dissolves Parliament, Calls Early Poll

Prime Minister, his Conservative party are seeking fourth term in office after nearly decade in power; election set for October 19
More

Mexican Journalist Found Dead After Receiving Threats

Ruben Espinosa worked for investigative magazine 'Proceso,' which said his sister identified his body Saturday
More