On 28 and 29 of August, a mock pollution response operation, Balex Delta, was conducted in the Baltic Sea by the countries along the sea. The region chosen to carry out this operation was the sea area near Helsinki in Finland.
In this rescue operation, a mock collision between an oil tanker and a ro-ro vessel was simulated. Around 100,000 tonnes of imaginary crude oil from the oil tanker was beginning to leak into the sea. Though the weather was normal, it was imagined to be rough. In this mock operation, the oil spill was effectively controlled much before it reached the archipelago.
A Senior Engineer with the Finnish Environment Institute, Kalervo Jolma, stated that heavy booms belonging to the state and municipalities were pressed into service for this operation in order to contain the oil spill. He said that these booms were used along a stretch of 5 km in the sea to safeguard the coastline.
This was the first time where helicopters were used to deploy the booms. Boris2, situational awareness software, was also put into successful use for the first time. HELCOM Response Group’s Chairman, Bernt Stedt, expressed that if this operation had been a real-life situation, it would have required the efforts of thousands of people.
Those who were part of this oil spill rescue operation include the oil spill response vessels from European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and HELCOM member countries, helicopters belonging to defence forces and Finnish Border Guard, countries from the EU Commission, Reservists belonging to the Navy, and WWF Finland volunteers. European Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) offered appreciable financial aid for this operation.
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