Finland to host this year's Baltic Sea region oil response exercise

Press release 2012-08-01 at 12:00

Press release by SYKE, HELCOM and Helsinki City Rescue Department

Oil response vessel Halli in 2007
Balex Delta -exercise in Estonia.
Photo: Jouko Pirttijärvi

This year’s Balex Delta oil spill response exercise, which is held annually under the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (HELCOM), will be arranged in the coastal area of Helsinki, Finland. Participants in the exercise coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE will include vessels and crews from all Baltic Sea states and European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).

The exercise is designed to test the cooperation within and among national and international oil spill response organisations and vessels in the Gulf of Finland. All aspects of the oil spill response operations will be tested during the two-day exercise, from alarm procedures to the disposal of recovered waste. This year the exercise also includes the joint procedures with EU Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Unit, especially to test different support mechanisms offered by EU.

Finnish authorities and voluntary troops will conduct their oil response exercise on Tuesday 28 August, and the international exercise will begin on Wednesday morning 29 August once the large oil spill response vessels have arrived from the participating countries.  

The number of vessels transporting oil on the Baltic Sea and particularly in the Gulf of Finland has increased in recent years, which means the risk of a major accident involving oil pollution also increases. The Baltic Sea states have signed a contract to combat oil spills in their respective regions, and to assist each other with oil response.

Oil transportation in the Gulf of Finland through main oil ports

In the Baltic Sea, oil is recovered from the sea using specially equipped vessels. The goal is to recover the oil on the open sea before it can reach the coastal region and shoreline. If an oil spill reaches the shore, clean-up will be difficult and expensive – recovering a litre of oil from the beach is 10 times as expensive as recovering the same amount from the sea.

Further information

R & D manager Jorma Rytkönen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, 
tel. +358 40 180 1447,

Fire officer Markku Rissanen, Helsinki City Rescue Department, 
tel. +358 50 385 8293,

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