Decaying tanker near Yemen could trigger massive oil spill
A report from the U.N. has warned that a tanker off the coast of Yemen could explode and turn into a catastrophic oil spill.
RAS ISA PORT, YEMEN — A discarded tanker off Yemen's coast may trigger one of the largest oil spills ever.
Safer, the decaying oil tanker, has been docked at Yemen's Ras Isa port without maintenance since 2015, according to CNN.
The ship contains an estimated 1.1 millions barrels of oil, according to U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock's speech to the U.N. Security Council.
He said the U.N. is planning to send a team to assess the tanker within the next two weeks, once they have secured their entry permits.
According to the Atlantic Council, crude oil is stored in a storage tank, its airspace needs to be regularly injected with inert gases to keep oxygen levels below 11 percent, otherwise the tank becomes flammable.
Doug Weir, research and policy director at the Conflict and Environment Observatory, told CNN there are concerns about an explosion on the Safer. He explained that since the tanker's engines haven't been running, no inert gases are being pumped to stop the build-up of explosive gases.
In his speech, Lowcock said that if the tanker explodes, it could pollute the coastline of the Red Sea.
The oil spill could reach from Bab el Mandeb to the Suez Canal and as far as the Strait of Hormuz, depending on the water currents and time of the year.
He warns that such an incident would be a global disaster, with dire consequences on the environment, shipping lanes and global economy.
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