Since the signature of the Helsinki Convention of 1974 the coastal countries of the Baltic Sea have within the HELCOM Response Group developed a high level of regional preparedness to pollution incidents. However, the trend of more traffic — and more oil transported at sea — leads to higher risks of spills of oil and hazardous substances, thus posing the risk of environmental damage. An increase in oil spills always means higher costs for the countries involved in the response actions both during and after a spill.
This is why all the Baltic Sea countries, on an initiative by the Response Group, conducted during 2009–2012 a comprehensive joint risk assessment through the BRISK project.
Based on the best available knowledge the project defined new measures to strengthen the preparedness and response both for the whole Baltic region and in specific sub-areas. The overall aim of the project was to increase the preparedness of all Baltic Sea countries to respond to major spills of oil and hazardous substances from shipping.
Based on the existing data on maritime traffic for the entire Baltic Sea and estimated risks of different accident and spill scenarios, the project calculated risks for different types of accidents and spill sizes. The project translated these scenarios into maps that define high risk areas in the region.
BRISK was initiated and implemented by the national authorities responsible for oil spill preparedness around the Baltic Sea as well as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), meeting regularly within the Response Group.
The countries and partners involved in the projects covered all nine coastal countries of the Baltic Sea:Denmark (Admiral Danish Fleet Headquarters, Lead Partner)Sweden (Swedish Coast Guard Headquarters)Finland (Finnish Environment Institute)Estonia (Estonian Board of Border Guard)Lithuania (Coastal Research and Planning Institute)Latvia (Marine and Inland Waters Administration of the Ministry of the Environment)Poland (Maritime Institute in Gdansk & Maritime Offi ce in Gdynia)Germany (Central Command for Maritime Emergencies)
Russia was involved through a consortium of partners in a specific BRISK-RU project where the Central Marine Research & Design Institute Ltd acted as a Lead Partner.
The BRISK project was partly financed by EU´s Baltic Sea Regional Programme 2007–2013 with 3.3 million EUR for the period 2009–2012. The co-financing varies between 15 per cent and 25 per cent, depending on the home country of the Project Partner. The BRISK-RU project was financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers Aquatic Ecosystems working group with 200,000 EUR. The Information office of the Nordic Council of Ministers in Kaliningrad served as a facilitator in the preliminary discussions of the project and as a contact point for Russian partners.