Yemen and its Environmental Ticking Time Bomb

A file photo shows the FSO Safer supertanker permanently anchored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, west of Hodeida.

In conducting my research on keeping in tune with what is going on in Yemen to date. I was shocked to find out that an Enviromental time bomb is ticking, and after 7 years is on the edge of going off.

For context, a decaying oil tanker off the coast of Yemen with a payload of 1.1 million barrels of crude oil is on the precipice of spilling into the Red Sea.  This would in turn lead to an historically awful Enviromental catastrophe. To truly grasp the scale of this threat, the UN’s environmental chief said the ship could release four times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 off Alaska if immediate action is not taken.

Concerns continue to grow over the condition of the FSO Safer, which has been stranded off the Yemeni port of Ras Isa since 2015.

“Time is running out for us to act in a coordinated manner to prevent a looming environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe,” Inger Andersen told the UN security Council back in 2020.

What is even scarier is the lack of media coverage I have seen on this threat. It is beyond evident that technical and repairs are direly needed on the tanker.

Personally, I believe that this oil needs to be offloaded as soon as possible and then be towed to a safe location for inspection and dismantling.

It is shocking to me that as we still have to adjust to the ramifications of the Exxon Valdez disaster decades ago. I am shocked that more action is not being taken.

What is even scarier is that Yemen as a country on the brink of collapse and is ripe with internal strife does not have the capacity to manage the consequences of such a large spill and could affect the livelihoods of the 28 million people who rely on the inlet.

In the past, the Houthis, have given the green light for a UN team to assess the ship’s condition and do initial repairs. In my opinion however, the Houthis are an unknown entity and are unpredictable.

What is known however, is that if something is not done fast, millions will be without drinking water, fisheries and biodiversity in the Red Sea will be devasted, and the long-term ramifications of an Oil spill in the Red Sea are terrifying.


Source-U.N. crowdfunding to avert “environmental, humanitarian and economic catastrophe” as oil tanker rots off Yemen – CBS News

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