UN: Aging Supertanker Off Yemen at ‘Imminent Risk’ of Spilling Oil

The United Nations warned Friday that an old, neglected oil tanker carrying more than a million barrels of oil is a ticking "time bomb" at "imminent risk" of a major spill off the coast of Yemen that could cost $20 billion to clean up.

"If it were to happen, the spill would unleash a massive ecological and humanitarian catastrophe centered on a country already decimated by more than seven years of war," U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly told reporters. "The environmental damage could affect states across the Red Sea. The economic impact of disrupted shipping would be felt across the region."

The FSO Safer is one more casualty in the war between the Saudi-backed government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Iranian-supported Houthi rebels.

U.N. officials have been seeking access to the vessel for more than three years to assess its safety, do light repairs and eventually tow it to a safe port to remove the oil. But Houthi rebels controlling the area have repeatedly reneged on promises to allow that to happen.

The tanker has had no maintenance since 2015 because of the war and only a skeleton crew is aboard the vessel. Gressly says the vessel is now beyond repair.

The United Nations warned Friday that an old, neglected oil tanker carrying more than a million barrels of oil is a ticking "time bomb" at "imminent risk" of a major spill off the coast of Yemen that could cost $20 billion to clean up.

"If it were to happen, the spill would unleash a massive ecological and humanitarian catastrophe centered on a country already decimated by more than seven years of war," U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen David Gressly told reporters. "The environmental damage could affect states across the Red Sea. The economic impact of disrupted shipping would be felt across the region."

The FSO Safer is one more casualty in the war between the Saudi-backed government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Iranian-supported Houthi rebels.

U.N. officials have been seeking access to the vessel for more than three years to assess its safety, do light repairs and eventually tow it to a safe port to remove the oil. But Houthi rebels controlling the area have repeatedly reneged on promises to allow that to happen.

The tanker has had no maintenance since 2015 because of the war and only a skeleton crew is aboard the vessel. Gressly says the vessel is now beyond repair.

Source: Voice of America

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