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Oil recovery exercise Kemi Arctic 2015 to test heavy equipment

Press release 2015-03-24 at 12:00

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Photos: Port of Kemi and Jorma Rytkönen, SYKE

Finnish Environment Institute's press release 24 March 2015

The oil recovery exercise “Kemi Arctic 2015” that will be held on 25 March off the coast of Kemi will test mechanical oil recovery and remote sensing equipment in Arctic conditions. The exercise will be hosted by the Finnish Environment Institute and will involve a plane of the Finnish Border Guard, as well as vessels equipped with mechanical brush skimmers that are suited for oil spill response in ice conditions. The exercise will also have observers from the Baltic Sea countries and member countries of the Arctic Council.

The environmental risks in Arctic regions have increased over the last few decades. The melting of Arctic ice, new marine routes and the growth of Arctic maritime transport increase the risk of emissions and encourage countries to improve their oil spill response preparedness and test new oil recovery techniques.

“International cooperation creates the conditions for protecting the marine environment from oil spills. The key actor in these operations is the Arctic Council, which comprises representatives from the Arctic countries,” states counsellor René Söderman, Arctic Official with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The ministry is an active participant in joint projects that promote oil spill prevention, among other things.

The Arctic Council develops oil response preparedness as part of the work of the Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group. “We are currently preparing a proposal on organising the oil spill response in the Arctic areas for this year’s ministerial meeting,” says the working group’s chair, Ole Kristian Bjerkemo, who works at the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

Finland develops expertise in Arctic oil spill response

The exercise in Kemi will test the oil spill response in an imaginary situation in which approximately 200 tonnes of oil have been spilled into the sea due to a collision between two vessels. The oil spill response vessels will strive to recover heavy fuel oil from among ice and slush. The exercise itself will mainly test the equipment, as no real oil will be used during the exercise.

The accident will supposedly take place on Monday 23 March, at which time the person on duty at the Finnish Environment Institute will issue exercise alerts to HELCOM, the member countries of the Arctic Council, the Nordic countries and the EU.

“Finland has strong expertise in the manufacture of vessels that operate in ice conditions and heavy oil spill response vessels,” says Jorma Rytkönen, Head of the environmental accident prevention unit at the Finnish Environment Institute. “By hosting the event in Kemi, we wish to inform our interest groups and foreign colleagues about our expertise and the suitability of our systems for difficult winter conditions.”

Seminar to strengthen cooperation and share best practices

The exercise will be accompanied by a seminar on 24 March that will address the topics of the Arctic environment, mechanical oil recovery in ice conditions, ice and weather services in the Arctic region, properties of vessels in ice conditions, and environmental monitoring.

Further information

Head of Unit Jorma Rytkönen, tel. +358 (0)295 251 583, Finnish Environment Institute, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi

Communications Expert Katri Haatainen, tel. +358 (0)295 251 135, Finnish Environment Institute, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi


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