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Minister of the Interior Ohisalo and Estonian Minister of the Interior Helme discuss cooperation in oil spill prevention and response in the Baltic Sea

Ministry of the Interior 25.8.2020 10.07
Press release 99/2020

Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo will meet her colleague, Estonian Minister of the Interior Mart Helme, in Tallinn today. The Ministers are to sign a memorandum of understanding between Finland and Estonia on oil spill prevention and response.

The objective of the memorandum of understanding is to strengthen cooperation between the Finnish Border Guard and the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board by agreeing on flexible cooperation arrangements. The memorandum of understanding will provide for closer cooperation in the field of oil spill prevention and response, such as cooperation exercises. The development of prevention measures and the exchange of information are to be continued at bilateral annual meetings. 

“A major accident at sea requires close cooperation between all the Baltic Sea countries, but especially between neighbouring countries. Finland and Estonia have a long tradition of bilateral cooperation. It is important that we also have the capacity to cooperate as effectively as possible in preventing environmental damage,” says Minister Maria Ohisalo.

In Finland, the Border Guard is responsible for organising and developing the prevention of and response to oil and chemical spills from ships. The rescue services are responsible for the prevention of and response to oil and chemical spills on land and in water areas in their area of operation. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for general guidance, monitoring and development concerning the prevention of and response to oil spills and chemical spills from ships.

Estonia to organise an annual oil spill response exercise

At their meeting, the Ministers of the Interior will also discuss the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic at the internal and external borders of the Schengen area, and the exchange of information related to the military defence tasks of border authorities.

On Wednesday 26 August, Ministers Ohisalo and Helme will follow the HELCOM Balex Delta exercise. Balex Delta is an operational exercise in preventing and responding to environmental damage under the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (HELCOM). From Finland, the exercise will be attended by the Border Guard’s vessel Turva, the Navy’s oil spill response vessel Halli and the new oil spill response vessel Grisslan, which operates under a service agreement. 

The Balex Delta exercise has been organised annually since 1990. The Baltic Sea countries take turns in organising the exercise, and this year it is Estonia’s turn. The 2021 exercise will be organised in the region of Kotka in Finland.

Inquiries:

Ismo Siikaluoma, Head of Unit, Commander, tel. +358 295 421 151, [email protected]
Jarno Lappalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 400 536 973

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