Major revisions of the internationally agreed procedures for marine pollution response in the Baltic Sea region, the HELCOM Response Manual, will be considered at the HELCOM Response Working in Tallinn, beginning today. The 3-day Meeting collects ministries and authorities with operational responsibilities on marine pollution preparedness and response in the coastal countries of the Baltic Sea and the EU. It will be chaired by Bernt Stedt, Swedish Coastguard. Changes considered to the
Response Manual this weekinclude a complete overhaul of
the sections on hazardous substances response. Photo: Swedish Coast GuardThe original on marine pollution incidents was adopted in 1983, based on a series of HELCOM Recommendations dealing with international warning, reporting, communication and command systems for the Baltic Sea region developed since the 1970s. These agreed operational procedures and best practices for the Baltic Sea are followed, exercised and revised on a regular basis by the coastal countries and the EU. Today the Manual consists of three parts: on general issues, such as national contact information, procedures for alarm and requests for international assistance, aerial surveillance and financial aspects of international operations; on spills involving hazardous substances; and on response the shore. Changes considered to the Response Manual this week include the first drafting for a complete overhaul of the sections on hazardous substances response. Response to accidents involving not oil, but one of the many other hazardous substances transported in the region, involve a complex range of measures and procedures. Technological advances, such as instrumentation and new “safe platform” vessel designs, have been rapid during recent years, but also global experience from response incidents has accumulated. Other parts of the Manual which will be looked at more closely include the procedures in situations where pollution has reached the shore. The international cooperation regarding on-shore response in the Baltic Sea has received recent attention from HELCOM. Last year, the coastal countries and the EU adopted a series of related amendments to the Helsinki Convention, the legal international basis of the HELCOM cooperation, as well as a new section (Volume III) of the Manual targeting on-shore response. The Meeting of the HELCOM Response group will also consider revisions to the minimum requirements and best practices for the aerial surveillance in the Baltic Sea region carried out by the coastal countries. Other topics in the Meeting include national reports on recent response operations since the last meeting in January; a draft for a new HELCOM Recommendation on marine pollution incident reporting and requests for assistance; and the report of the HELCOM Balex Delta 2014 operational in Ventspils, Latvia.. All documents will be available after the meeting. * * *Note for editorsHELCOM has been in place since 1976 and works to ensure swift regional to maritime pollution incidents both oil products and other harmful substances. The Group also coordinates aerial surveillance of maritime shipping routes, response on the shore, sub-merged hazardous objects. Sub-groups include the Expert working group on response on the , Informal working group on surveillance, oiled wildlife response and Expert group on environmental risks of hazardous objects. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, usually referred to as , is an intergovernmental organization of the nine Baltic Sea coastal countries and the European Union working to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution and to ensure safety of navigation in the region. Since 1974, HELCOM has been the governing body of the ‘Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area’, more commonly known as the Helsinki Convention. * * * For more information, please contact:Hermanni BackerProfessional Secretary for Maritime, Response and Maritime Spatial PlanningHELCOMTel: +358 46 8509199Skype: helcom02E-mail: hermanni.backer(at)helcom.fi Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)helcom.fi
Major revisions of the internationally agreed procedures for marine pollution response in the Baltic Sea region, the HELCOM Response Manual, will be considered at the Response meeting starting today.