In 1940, oil deposits were discovered in the Bahia de Todos os Santos, the Bays were the city of Salvador is located; oil extraction wells were installed in the ocean surrounding area, in the Candeia zone and in the Ilha de Maré (Maré Island), most of them are still working or were active until the beginning of 2000. In 1950 the Ludulpho Alves-Mataripe refinery were inaugurated, the refinery is located in front of the Ilha de Maré (Maré Island). In 1953 the national oil company, Petrobras was founded and in 1967 the Industrial complex of Aratu, consisting today in a commercial port mainly for the exportation of gas and in petrochemical industries, was built. The discover of oil it was a moment of great enthusiasm and great discussions, the decision of the nationalisation of the petrochemical chain would influence the history of Brazil until today. In 2021 the refinery of Mataripe is sold to the Mudabala Capital from United Arab Emirates.
The Mataripe refinery and the Industrial complex of Aratu got bigger along the year, becoming a reference in Brazil, simultaneously they create a massive environmental impact in the area that in 1999 was legally recognised as nature conservation area. Along the years the pollution levels of the Todos os Santos Bay increased affecting the local communities that live of fishing and seafood catching.
The Environmental Racism has been theorised between the 1970 and the 1980, its definition has used to describe environmental injustices in a racial contest. The environmental racism take place when politics decisions related to the environment are taken and, as consequence, generate a racial discrimination or have a negative impact on a specific ethnic/racial specific group of people.
The Petrochemical Complex of Camaçari and the Aratu-Candeias Port that is responsible for the 60% of the cargo ship travelling from and to the Bahia State. With an increase of the industrialisation, increased also the level of environmental pollution and environmental related incidents, like in 2008 when a Norwegian ship lost in the waters lubricant oil polluting all the nearby areas. The Bahia’s researcher Neuza Miranda carried on a study that demonstrated the high contamination of Cadmium and Lead coming from the local industries in the children of Ilha de Maré. The researcher Beatriz Moreira Bispo underline in her study the lack of communication and compromise between the institutions, the company and the local Communities, This lack of communication, mediation and reduction of the environmental impact generate local conflicts.
Despite the community of the Ilha de Maré tried to established a dialogue with the Institutions and the Companies to improve the environmental situation, very little has been done to decrease the pollution level or the factors that affect the Community of Ilha de Mare making them suffer of environmental racism.