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  • 2016 October 6 16:33

    Pollution response on Baltic shores gets refined

    The substantial milestone of revising the HELCOM Response Manual Vol III about pollution incidents on shore has been reached by the assigned expert group, wrapping up their meeting on 22 Sepetember  2016 on a cruise ship voyage to Turku, Finland, HELCOM says in a press release. The cooperation in combating spillages of oil and other harmful substances in the Baltic Sea area is based on the 1992 Helsinki Convention. The amendment to the Convention on explicit coverage of response on the shore, also drafted by the expert group, stepped into force in 2014.

    "Finishing the work on the thorough updating and extending of the Manual is a remarkable achievement. The Baltic Sea pollution response has longer traditions at sea than on the shore, and the practices, procedures and authorities in charge often significantly differ between shore and sea – nevertheless cooperation would be crucial in case of a major pollution incident," says Heli Haapasaari, Chair of HELCOM Response Working Group who is overseeing the Expert Working Group on Response on the Shore.

    The Expert Working Group on Response on the Shore has completed its tasks for now but more work is still needed. The group had the consensus that further strengthening of the on shore response cooperation is necessary, and the future need remains for continuous information exchange, and sharing best practises as well as recent developments regarding shore response.

    "We look forward to still improve the HELCOM cooperation regarding the shore response and lift it to the next level. In the near future it should be a self-evident part of the response chain," says Sonja Dobo, the Chair of the Expert Working Group on Response on the Shore.

    In the relatively small Baltic Sea, with its narrow Danish Straits and a large number of islands and skerries in the north, in case of a polluting accident there is probably not enough time or resources to recover all the oil or other harmful substance at sea – thus some will reach the shore. Pollution on the shore may be of such a magnitude that the national response resources are not adequate for effective counter pollution measures. For this end it is essential to have effective mechanisms established, also covering efficient operations, for international assistance between all the HELCOM countries.

    The 13th Meeting of the Expert Working Group on Response on the Shore was chaired by Sonja Dobo, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), Chair of the Group, and held on 22 September 2016.




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