Largest Ever Baltic Oil Spill Response Exercise in Helsinki Today
29 August 2012, Helsinki, Finland – 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 governed by HELCOM, will take place today just outside Helsinki, Finland. The exercise is larger than ever before, involving dozens of Finnish organisations, more than 20 oil pollution response vessels, more than 50 other vessels, and more than 500 people from the region. The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE is coordinating the exercise.
A national oil spill response exercise was conducted on Tuesday 28 August by Finnish authorities and voluntary troops, followed by the international Balex Delta exercise starting today. The Helsinki City Rescue Department, the Finnish Border Guard, the Finnish Defence Forces and Meritaito Ltd provide a significant input with their recovery vessels, aircraft and personnel. Equipment and staff from the Helsinki, Länsi- and Itä-Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso rescue authorities also take part in both exercises.
The exercise involves the simulation of a major oil tanker accident in the Gulf of Finland, which is one of the most vulnerable and busiest sea areas in the world. The exercise is based on a scenario where a ro-ro vessel collides with an oil tanker and 15,000 tonnes of crude oil spills into the sea. For the purpose of the exercise, peat is used to simulate the oil.
The drill is designed to test the cooperation within and among national and international oil spill response organisations and vessels. All aspects of the oil spill response operations will be tested during the exercise, from alarm procedures to the disposal of recovered waste. Crews at sea and ashore will practice the deployment of oil containment booms, oil recovery, shoreline protection, oil spill mapping, preparedness for shoreline clean-up, logistics and oiled wildlife response. A significant new element in the exercise is the regional Boris 2 situation awareness system, which is used for distributing information among the different organisations, and for oil spill response operational command.
The number of vessels transporting oil on the Baltic Sea and particularly in the Gulf of Finland has increased remarkably in recent years, which means a growing risk of a major accident involving oil pollution. The Baltic Sea states have signed a contract under HELCOM to combat oil spills in their respective regions, and to assist each other with oil response. Assistance from neighbouring states is essential in the event of a major oil disaster, which is why the countries arrange a joint exercise annually.
A large part of the funding for this year’s exercise came from the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (DG ECHO).
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Materials for media and other information on Balex Delta 2012:
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Professional Secretary (Maritime & Response) Hermanni Backer, HELCOM, tel. +358 46 850 9199, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Inspector Heli Haapasaari, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, tel. +358 40 179 3050, email@example.com
Fire Officer Markku Rissanen, Helsinki City Rescue Department, tel. +358 50 385 8293, firstname.lastname@example.org
Information Secretary Johanna Laurila, HELCOM, tel. +358 40 523 8988, email@example.com
Chief Information Officer Sirpa Pellinen, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE,
tel. +358 40 740 2754, firstname.lastname@example.org