(CNN)Time is running out to prevent a decaying tanker off the coast of Yemen from dumping its load of 1.1 million barrels of oil into the Red Sea, sparking an environmental catastrophe, the United Nations has warned.
Time running out to prevent oil spill from 'ticking time bomb' tanker in Yemen, UN warns
Concerns are growing over the condition of the SAFER FSO tanker, which has been stranded off the Yemeni port of Ras Isa since 2015. This week, the UN's environmental chief said the ship could release four times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 off Alaska if action was not taken.
"Time is running out for us to act in a coordinated manner to prevent a looming environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe," Inger Andersen told the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
Seawater flooded the aging tanker's engine room in late May and is threatening to destabilize the ship, according to the UN. Andersen said that "no effort should be spared" to conduct a "a technical assessment and initial light repairs" on the vessel.
But she added that in the longer term, the best option is for the oil to be offloaded from the ship, which would then be towed to a safe location for inspection and dismantling.