UN fears abandoned oil tanker may blow up, could ignite humanitarian and economic disaster


  • The UN raised its alarms over an abandoned oil tanker in the Red Sea, as its products can potentially cause a disaster in both the environment and economy.
  • Houthi rebels have reportedly denied UN experts access to the site, which was a vital step so that the authorities may prevent a possible catastrophe.
  • Environmental group Holm Akhdar says that around 126,000 Yemeni fishermen may lose their primary source of livelihood should the disaster arises.

An oil tanker left abandoned in the Red Sea filled with over 1 million barrels of crude oil, can potentially explode, which can likely result in an environmental disaster in bigger proportions.

The UN Security Council has heightened the danger implicated by the FSO Safer tanker, which is anchored off Yemen’s coast.

Fox News reported that the Security Council has a meeting about the tanker on Wednesday at 3 pm ET.

According to reports, Houthi rebels, which governs the spot where was the ship was located, have restricted UN inspectors access to the vessel. Information gathered by AP last week,  UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the local officials gave a go signal for the UN probe to the area.

In a statement released on June 29, the Security Council, its members expressed deep concern at the rising potential that the Safer oil tanker could explode that can cause environmental, humanitarian devastation for Yemen and its surrounding areas.

The council highlighted that it’s vital that the Houthis must soon give unrestricted access for United Nations technical crew to inspect the tanker, implement immediate repairs, and recommend methods to extract the oil safely.

The Associated Press acquired internal reports last month, and it showed that the seawater flooded the tanker’s engine compartment. Since the section hasn’t been maintained for more than five years, the damage also reached the pipelines, making the risk of sinking doubled.

Rust has also enclosed most parts of the ship, and the inert gas that blocks its tanks acquiring inflammable gases has already leaked.

AP’s June 26 analysis says experts ruled out the damage is too extensive, making it impossible for maintenance.

Yemen’s Central Statistical Organisation, Environmental Protection Authority of the nation, and  Yemeni environmental platform, Holm Akhdar agree that the oil spillage from the SFO Safer could lead to the loss of Yemeni islands’ biodiversity.

Holm Akhdar projects that about 126,000 Yemeni fishermen can lose their source of income because of the potential environmental disaster.

The group also warned that the decaying tanker endangers at least 969 species of fish, and 850,000 tons of sea produce can be found in the Red Sea’s Yemeni waters. Other than that,  about 300 species of coral reefs are also at risk.

Made in Japan in the 70s, the oil tanker was sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s as storage for up to 3 million barrels mined from Marib, Yemen oil fields. With 34 storage tanks, the ship is approximately 1,181 feet long.

Source: New York Post

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