August 28, 2018 – A major oil response exercise is ongoing on the Swedish coast this week. Finnish Environment Institute SYKE is one of the co-organizers of this year’s BALEX DELTA response exercise.
The BALEX DELTA exercise is held annually under the Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area (HELCOM). This year the exercise is bigger than usual, as the European Union is also supporting the exercise through its DG Echo co-financing and taking part in the exercise.
The exercise is held in Karlskrona, Sweden from 28th to 30th of August 2018 and it is led by the Swedish Coast Guard. The exercise is co-organized by the County Administrative Board of Skåne, HELCOM, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), Polish Maritime Search and Rescue Service and Finnish Environment Institute SYKE.
The exercise simulates a situation where a cargo ship carrying chemical containers is running aground in harsh weather. Chemicals and oil leak into the sea and reach the shore. The spill is so large that regional intervention is needed to handle the situation.
According to Senior Adviser Heli Haapasaari, Chair of HELCOM Response Working Group, around 550 persons from 32 countries and the EU take part in the BALEX DELTA 2018. There are 18 maritime vessels, one aircraft and one helicopter involved in the exercise.
SYKE has appointed two vessels for the exercise. “The offshore patrol vessel Turva belongs to the Finnish Border Guard and the oil response vessel Hylje belongs to the Finnish Navy. As the rest of the Finnish pollution response fleet, these are multi-purpose vessels that SYKE has fitted for pollution response. Normally they are used in other tasks,” Senior Adviser Heli Haapasaari says.
Previous BALEX DELTA exercises have been held mainly at sea. “This is the largest BALEX DELTA oil response exercise on shore so far”, Heli Haapasaari says. “The on-shore response was included in the framework of the HELCOM Response in 2014.”