Today, Tuesday, an American channel revealed that nine million Yemenis are at risk, despite repeated calls to quickly take urgent measures to avoid a looming imminent disaster.
CNN said in a report focusing on a new study, regarding the increasing risk of the explosion of the Safer oil tanker, located on the Red Sea, translated by “The Yemeni Scene”, that Yemen is “particularly at risk”, but experts stressed the need to take urgent measures to avoid the disaster.
She emphasized that “the Red Sea is one of the most important reservoirs of biodiversity on the planet”, yet it faces the threat of the tanker.
Here is the full text of the report:
The decomposition of a rickety oil tanker off the coast of Yemen disrupts clean water supplies for 9 million people
Written by Radina Jegova and Kara Fox
(CNN) A new study suggests that the potential for a massive oil spill from a rickety oil tanker stuck in the Red Sea could disrupt clean water supplies to the equivalent of more than 9 million people.
The FSO Safer tanker contains 1.1 million barrels of oil, or more than four times the amount spilled in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez 2 – which has been “abandoned” off the Yemeni coast since 2015 and continues to deteriorate.
The report, published in the journal Nature Sustainability on Monday, said penetrating the ship, which is a single hull, would cause the contents to spill directly into seawater.
The report includes modeling that predicts that a spill from a ship could have broader environmental, economic and humanitarian consequences than previously envisaged.
The study found that “the expected leak could disrupt the supply of clean water equivalent to the daily use of 9.9 million people.”
She added that up to 8.4 million people could be cut off from the food supply; Fisheries in Yemen will be particularly threatened.
The fisheries are currently responsible for providing subsistence for 1.7 million people in the country, which is nearing the end of its seventh year of conflict and is on the brink of famine.
Within one week, the spill would threaten 66.5-85.2% of Yemen’s Red Sea fisheries, according to the report.
By the third week, 93-100% of the Yemeni Red Sea fisheries will be under threat. The report said the leak “would devastate an industry already struggling to survive”.
Yemen is also “particularly vulnerable” due to its reliance on the main ports close to the tanker, such as Hodeidah and Saleef, through which 68% of humanitarian aid enters the country. According to the report, more than half of the country’s population depends on humanitarian aid received through those ports.
She added that air pollution from the spill would also increase the risks of hospitalization. The average hospitalization risk for cardiovascular and respiratory disease would range from 6.7% for a slow winter dropout to 42.0% for a fast drop out in summer.
The researchers are calling on the international community to take urgent action to avoid a catastrophe that could affect environments, economies and public health systems across the region – and which could last for years or decades.
It added that the leak “particularly threatens” coral reefs in the Red Sea and could “disrupt global trade through the vital Bab al-Mandab Strait” through which 10% of global shipping trade passes.
The FSO Safer has been classified as out of readiness since 2016 and has not been maintained since the beginning of the conflict in Yemen. In May 2020, sea water leaked into the engine room, and the ship’s fire-extinguishing system was now “not operational,” the report said.
The researchers added: “The spill and its potentially catastrophic effects remain entirely preventable by offloading the oil. Our findings underscore the need for urgent action to avert this looming disaster.”
Yemen has been locked in a civil war for years, pitting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels against a coalition backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The rebels, who control the area where the ship is located, had previously prevented United Nations inspectors from assessing the ship, despite the international organization’s request for help. But the Houthis have repeatedly blamed the Saudi-led coalition fighting them for preventing UN inspectors from accessing the tanker.
And in November 2020, an agreement was reached with the Houthis on the scope of work required to make the ship safe, according to Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). But it warned in June that despite the agreement reached, the planned assessment mission had yet to be deployed “due to ‘political and logistical hurdles'”.
At the same time, Andersen said: “As a result, we still do not know the exact condition of the ship, nor the best solution for handling 1.1 million barrels of oil in an old tanker located in an environmentally sensitive area in the Red Sea.”
Andersen added that “the Red Sea is one of the most important repositories of biodiversity on the planet” as it hosts a number of species, such as marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds and many more.
“Even if response activities start immediately after an oil spill occurs, it will take years for ecosystems and economies to recover,” he continued.