Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

Six pollution hot spots cleaned up in the Baltic Sea

​​​​​​​Six waste water treatment plants were approved for deletion from the HELCOM list by the high-level Baltic coastal country representatives, ending their meeting last Friday in Helsinki, Finland. The six Hot Spots, listed as significant pollution sites in the Baltic Sea catchment area, are all located in the Polish terrain: three in Warsaw area and the rest in Krakow, Lublib and Poznan. The Heads of Delegation also pushed forward a large amount activities pursued within the HELCOM regional framework, covering the key segments of the Baltic Sea Action Plan: eutrophication, biodiversity, hazardous substances and maritime activities.Baltic Sea gets cleaner with the improvements made in waste water treatment. Photo: Metsähallitus NHS/Janos Honkonen  The HELCOM list of Hot Spots, with 162 sites identified as very major pollution sources originating from municipal and industrial waste water treatment, agriculture, as well as industrial sites, has only one quarter of Hot Spots left. The list was originally established as a part of the Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme (JCP, 1992–2013). The six cleaned up pollution sites are all large urban waste water treatments plants, leaving only four HELCOM listed waste water treatment plants left in Poland.  Improving municipal waste water treatment is a highly cost-efficient measure to reduce phosphorus loads, a major cause of pollution in the Baltic Sea. This sector still has potential for achieving reductions in the overall inputs to the sea. Many cities in the Baltic Sea region have improved their treatment standards in recent years, and are meeting the requirements set by the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. HELCOM has recommended even stricter standards to save the sensitive marine environment of the Baltic Sea which needs to be fulfilled in order for a municipal Hot Spot to be mitigated. As there are also hazardous substances in municipal and industrial waste water, concern has increased for minimizing the impact of substances such as pharmaceuticals and microplastics. All documents can be accessed shortly after the meeting. * * * Note for editorsThe Heads of Delegation (HOD) of HELCOM usually meet few times a year. While the Annual Meeting of HELCOM remains the Commission’s highest decision-making body, the Heads of Delegation have a relatively high authority over most major issues.  The working structure of HELCOM, supported and administered by the Secretariat, comprises of the Helsinki Commission, the Heads of Delegation, and eight main working groups, together with tens of expert groups, correspondence groups and projects. 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:Johanna LaurilaInformation SecretaryHELCOMTel: +358 40 523 8988Skype: helcom70E-mail: johanna.laurila(at)​​

Six large urban wastewater treatments plants have been upgraded to meet HELCOM standards and deleted last week from the so-called Hot Spot list.