Gulf environment threatened by sunken ships & tankers

Mar 13, 1997 01:00 AM

An Iraqi oil tanker that sank during the Gulf War with a full load of crude could cause an environmental disaster if it breaks up, a Gulf official said recently. The tanker, which sank in the northern Gulf with 700,000 barrels of oil, should be salvaged before it damages the environment, said Jamil al-Hujeilan, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It concerns the Iraqi tanker Amouriya, which sank six years ago just outside Iraqi territorial waters.
Al-Hujeilan made the remarks at the meeting in Bahrain of GCC ministers in charge of environmental affairs. The GCC groups Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The ministers also were told that there are about 200 ships lying on the Gulf seabed, most of them sunk during the 1991 Gulf War and the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and that they posed an obstacle to navigation.
In 1995, a Gulf official warned that the Amouriya's bulkheads had corroded and were in danger of collapse. There were calls for salvage then, but nothing has happened.

Oil spills have caused ecological disasters in the Gulf. One of the worst occurred in 1991, when intentionally oil was drained into the Gulf from Kuwaiti oil facilities. Some experts have estimated the spill at up to 8 mmb of oil. At the time, more than 700 kilometres (430 miles) of coastline from southern Kuwait to just North of Jubail in Saudi Arabia were inundated.

Source: not available
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