Charity urges donor support to avert oil spill off Yemen
CAIRO (AP) — An international charity urged donors around the world on Wednesday to make good on their pledge to remove oil from a long-stranded and rusted supertanker near Yemen to avoid an explosion or spill that could cause environmental and economic disaster .
Save the Children’s call comes as the Netherlands, the United States and Germany are scheduled to announce on Wednesday “successfully funded emergency operations” to eliminate the threat of the FSO Safer tanker. The event, which also includes the United Nations and the internationally recognized government of Yemen, takes place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
The United Nations told The Associated Press on Monday that it had finally met its pledged goal of raising funds to offload 1 million barrels of oil from tankers, but it still needed to convince all donors to make good on their promises Phase 1, $75 million in operations.
Save the Children urged the international community to treat the tanker as an “international emergency”. It warned that high winds and currents at sea in winter could “make oil transfer operations more dangerous and increase the risk of vessel breakup”.
It said the breakup of the tanker would have “catastrophic humanitarian, environmental and economic consequences”. It said that if the tanker leaked or exploded, the livelihoods of Yemen’s fishing communities could be wiped out immediately.
The tanker is a Japanese-built vessel built in the 1970s and sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s to store up to 3 million barrels of oil for export pumped from fields in Malibu, in Yemen’s eastern province.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels control Yemen’s western Red Sea ports, including Ras Issa, just 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) from safer anchorages, and the United Nations has been negotiating with the rebels for years to try to get experts on the tanker Check it out.
The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in March authorizing a four-month emergency operation to neutralize the immediate threat by diverting oil from the Safer tanker to another vessel. In the long term, the MoU calls for the Safer tanker to be replaced with another vessel capable of holding a similar amount of oil within 18 months.
The aging tanker was 360 meters (1,181 feet) long and had 34 storage tanks. It holds four times the oil estimated in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that devastated the coast of Alaska.