‘A Looming Catastrophe’: UN Official Warns Oil Tanker Could Spill Four Times More Oil Than Exxon Valdez


Nicholas Elias Contributor
Font Size:

United Nations Executive Director Inger Andersen warned the U.N. Security Council Thursday that a spill from an abandoned oil tanker in Yemen could produce a “catastrophe.”

In her briefing given to the U.N. Security Council Thursday, Andersen stated that a spill from the FSO Safer, an oil tanker moored off the coast of Yemen carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, could produce a crisis four times as devastating as the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989. (RELATED: Drug Runners Reportedly Drop Sacks Of Marijuana On Spanish Beach In Broad Daylight)

“Time is running out for us to act in a coordinated manner to prevent a looming environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe,” Anderson said to the U.N. Security Council. Anderson also said the FSO Safer has not been maintained since 2015 and that the spill could affect “the lives of potentially 28 million people who rely on these ecosystems for their livelihoods.”

Houthi rebels have stopped U.N. inspectors from assessing the damage done to the tanker, per CBS. The U.N. reportedly said that the rebels had recently agreed to allow a U.N. mission to the ship. 

Internal documents obtained by The Associated Press revealed that seawater has entered the engine compartment of the ship, causing damage and increasing the risk of sinking. Rust has reportedly covered parts of the tanker and inert gas, meant to prevent tanks from collecting inflammable gas, has leaked out. Experts said the damage is irreversible, according to AP.

“We are fully mobilized and we’ll move as quickly as as possible,” U.N. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told CBS, “We have been flagging this issue for quite some time to make sure that it is not on the back burner but it is on the front burner and everybody is paying attention to it, but I can assure you that our colleagues are working as quickly as possible.”

Micheal Aron, the British ambassador to Yemen, warned of the similarities between the situation in Yemen and a reported fuel leak in Siberia.

“The recent spillage of 20,000 tonnes of fuel in Russia is causing massive environmental damage in Siberia,” Aron wrote on Twitter, “The SAFER tanker in Yemen has 150,000 tonnes of crude which would devastate the Red Sea and its coast if it leaked.”