CAIRO (AP) – An international charity called on global donors Wednesday to make good on pledges to remove oil from a long-stranded and rusting supertanker off Yemen to prevent an explosion or leak that could cause environmental and economic disaster.
Save the Children’s call came as the Netherlands, the US and Germany were due to announce on Wednesday “successful funding of an emergency operation” to neutralize the threat from the FSO Safer oil tanker. The event, which includes both the UN and the internationally recognized government of Yemen, is being held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The United Nations told the Associated Press on Monday that it has finally reached its promised goal of raising money to remove one million barrels of oil from tankers, but it still needs to convince all donors to pay their pledges. for the first phase of the $75 million operation.
Save the Children called on the international community to treat the tanker as an “international emergency”. It warned that turbulent winds and currents at sea in winter are likely to “make the oil transfer operation more dangerous and increase the risk of ship breakdown”.
It states that breaking up the tanker would cause “catastrophic humanitarian, environmental and economic consequences”. It said the livelihoods of Yemeni fishing communities could be instantly destroyed if the tanker leaks or explodes.
The tanker is a Japanese-built ship built in the 1970s and sold to the Yemeni government in the 1980s to store up to 3 million barrels of exportable oil pumped from fields in Marib, a province in eastern Yemen.
Iran-backed Houthi rebels control Yemen’s western Red Sea ports, including Ras Issa, just 6 kilometers (about 4 miles) from where Safer is anchored, and the UN has been negotiating with the rebel group for years to try to get experts on the tanker to examine it .
Both sides signed a memorandum of understanding in March authorizing a four-month emergency operation to eliminate the immediate threat of the Safer tanker’s oil being transferred to another vessel. In the long term, the MOU calls for replacing the Safer tanker with another vessel capable of holding a similar amount of oil within 18 months.
The old tanker is 360 meters (1,181 feet) long with 34 storage tanks. It contains about four times the amount of oil estimated to have been released in the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that devastated the coast of Alaska.