Brazil police investigate mysterious oil slicks polluting Northeast beaches

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian police on Wednesday opened an investigation into possible criminal activity surrounding an apparent oil spill off beaches along the country’s Northeast coast, federal prosecutors said.

The probe aims to establish the origin of the oil slicks, which could represent “possible major environmental damage in the region,” the police said in a statement.

Brazil’s Northeast coast is famed for its sandy beaches and is popular with tourists.

Environmental agency Ibama said last week that the mysterious spill had contaminated beaches and coastline across eight states, and that some oil-coated birds and sea turtles had been washed up and were being treated.

The Brazilian Navy and state-run oil company Petrobras SA also said last week that analysis showed the oil was produced abroad, but they could not say where.

Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira in Brasilia; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Matthew Lewis