Safeguarding Yemen’s Environment from FSO Safer Tanker Threat

Source The United Nations


Media – Press briefing by Achim Steiner, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and David Gressly, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, on the FSO Safer tanker.

The United Nations has started pumping oil off the decaying vessel FSO Safer, moored off Yemen’s Red Sea coast, averting a potential spill and environmental disaster, Steiner and Gressly informed.

Briefing journalists in New York on Tuesday (25 July) via video, Steiner and Gressly marked the milestone but warned it’s the beginning of a long process.

Steiner said, “Years and months of preparation for the salvage operation of the FSO Safer lay behind us. Many challenges and hurdles. But, as of this morning, we are pleased to report that the pumps are on. The pipes have been laid between the FSO Safer and Yemen, the replacement tanker, and the first gallons of oil have been pumped off the SAFER onto Yemen.”

The UNDP Chief said the team involved was “very relieved” that “the operation of pumping oil has finally begun.” But, Steiner warned, “This is just another step in this highly complex operation that ultimately will lead to the emptying of the tanks, then the cleaning of the tanks, then the towing away, and the sound and ecologically and socially responsible scrapping of the FSO Safer, and the delivery of a convoy.”

Speaking to journalists from a ship supporting the operation, Gressly said, “As you know, there are over a million barrels of oil on board, so this is going to take some time to finish. We will know shortly how much we have moved today. They’re taking the sounding readings as we speak to see what quantity was moved. But we do expect that this will take approximately 19 days to move the 1.1 million barrels off of the vessel.”

The Resident Coordinator noted that “the broader coalition working to prevent the catastrophe includes countless individuals and organizations that provided invaluable expertise and in-kind support.” Gressly added, “It includes environmental groups like Greenpeace and private companies like the Fahem Group that propose the initiative that was the basis for the plan we’re implementing today. I think this also shows the breadth of knowledge of the operation of the concern and the threat that this vessel presented.”

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