HELCOM countries to discuss draft national programmes to restore the Baltic Sea
Helsinki, 26 January (HELCOM Information Service) – The HELCOM Land-based Pollution Group (HELCOM LAND) convened today in Copenhagen for its 15th regular Meeting to discuss further actions to combat eutrophication and reduce pollution of hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea.
The implementation of the overarching HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan to cease excessive pollution inputs to the sea and restore its good ecological status by 2021 will top the agenda of the Meeting, which runs through 28 January. "Representatives of the HELCOM Member States are expected to present major elements of their draft National Implementation Programmes (NIP's) to achieve the objectives of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan," says Anne Christine Brusendorff, HELCOM's Executive Secretary. "These nine NIP's will be officially presented at the HELCOM Ministerial Meeting which will be held on 20 May 2010 in Moscow."
A key part of the Agenda of the HELCOM LAND Meeting in Copenhagen will be discussions on how to facilitate and make more effective actions to limit emissions and discharges from land-based sources within the provisions of the Baltic Sea Action Plan. Representatives of the HELCOM Member States will particularly discuss the elaboration of a list of agricultural installations for intensive rearing of pigs, poultry and cattle, not complying with current HELCOM pollution regulations and requiring remedial actions. Agricultural run-off is a major source of nitrogen and phosphorus inputs into the Baltic Sea. Implementation of stricter HELCOM requirements for phosphorus removal at municipal wastewater treatment plants (to be enforced by the end of 2010) will be also discussed.
The Meeting is expected to consider the revision of several HELCOM Recommendations (regulations) and review the progress of several projects dealing with inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances. Among them are two new projects contributing to the Baltic Sea Action Plan: on the assessment of inputs of nutrients from agriculture in Russia's Kaliningrad and Leningrad Oblast' (BALTHAZAR), and on the identification of sources of selected hazardous substances and development of cost efficient options for reducing their inputs into the Baltic ("Control of Hazardous substances in the Baltic Sea Region - COHIBA"), both launched in 2009 with financial support of the European Union.
The continuing recovery of major pollution hot spots in the Baltic Sea coastal countries will be also an important issue on the Agenda. The Meeting is expected to consider the removal of St. Petersburg's Central Aeration Station from the list of the Baltic Sea's most significant pollution sources. According to experts, this wastewater treatment plant, one of the largest in Europe and the largest in the Baltic Sea region, has reached the discharge target of less than 0.5 milligram of phosphorus per litre one year ahead of HELCOM's set deadline. It will drastically reduce the load of phosphorus to the Gulf of Finland and hence help curbing eutrophication in the whole Baltic Sea region. The renovation project worth 58 million Euros was co-funded from both national and international sources, including a grant by the John Nurminen Foundation (Finland) for advanced phosphorus removal.
The Hot Spots List of the most significant point sources of pollution around the Baltic Sea was first drawn up under the HELCOM Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme (JCP) in 1992. The hot spots were designated by an international group of scientists, engineers, environmental managers, financers and government representatives, according to practical economic considerations as well as the seriousness of their impact on the environment and human health. Currently, a total of 73 hot spots and sub-hot spots remain on the list of the Baltic Sea's most significant pollution sources, following the deletion of 89 of the earlier identified 162 hot spots/sub-hot spots. Assessment of the JCP progress will be also discussed at the Meeting.
The Meeting will be conducted by Mr. Leonid Korovin, Chairman of HELCOM LAND.
Note to Editors:
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as the Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organisation of all the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution.
HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," known as the Helsinki Convention.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Nikolay Vlasov
Tel: +358 (0)46 8509196
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645