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TIME RUNNING OUT TO PREVENT CATASTROPHIC SPILL FROM ABANDONED OIL TANKER IN YEMEN
Editor: No apologies for once again highhlighting the ongoing threat of the entirely preventable oil spill that would represent the most serious oil spill event since Deepwater Horizon. ISCO urges all concerned parties to co-operate and take preventative action. This excerpt from an article in Yemen Online underlines the importance of finding a solution and suggests a potential approach.
“Negotiations between parties remain in a stalemate, and with every passing day we are a day closer to catastrophe.
The Houthis may be skeptical about negotiating with U.N. officials, as the U.N. andCoalition support the government in Aden, the Houthis’ main adversary. If this is the case, then an independent, non-governmental intermediary should be appointed toseek resolution to the dispute. If what we are doing isn’t working, then we need to trysomething different. Clearly, what the U.N. has been doing to resolve this is not working, and it is time to admit such and try another approach.
The Houthis hold the cards here, and they need to be heard and respected. An independent intermediary could help clarify Houthi demands, and sort out a reasonable middle ground with the opposing Coalition. We have proposed this very approach for over a year, but the U.N. and governments of the region remain unresponsive to the suggestion.
As efforts continue to arrange the safe offloading of the SAFER, governments in the region need to prepare for the worst – a full discharge of the SAFER’s million barrels of oil. This would require thousands of trained response personnel (Deepwater Horizon used 48,000 personnel, Exxon Valdez used 11,000), hundreds of miles of oil containment and sorbent booms, thousands of vessels, hundreds of oil skimmers, and dozens of oil transfer barges, all costing billions of dollars. The Deepwater Horizon response cost $14 billion, Exxon Valdez cost $2 billion, both took over 3 years, and bothwere ineffective. It is unclear who would foot the bill for a SAFER spill. And given the high COVID infection rate in the region, it is hard to imagine how such a massive spillresponse could be mounted.
The bottom line here is this: it would be reckless and unacceptable for the opposing parties to remain stuck in rigid positions on the SAFER, exposing this war torn region to yet another grave, and avoidable, calamity. Both the Coalition and Houthis will need to make concessions. A deal to offload the oil may be as simple as agreeing to asubstantial aid package for Yemen’s people, including health care, education, and economic opportunity. If so, let’s make that deal. The Houthis would enhance their cause and international reputation immeasurably if they would take such a deal, and allow the SAFER to be offloaded. There is always a deal to be made, and we urgently need to find a deal here to offload this derelict tanker before it spills its toxic cargo into the Red Sea”.