Oil and chemical pollution

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for general guidance, monitoring and development of response to oil spills and chemical spills from ships. The Ministry ensures that sufficient financial resources are allocated for this, develops the legislation and coordinates its implementation and the international cooperation related to agreements on response to oil and chemical spills.

The Finnish Environment Institute SYKE has coordinated the development of Finland's response preparedness systematically on a long-term basis in close collaboration with several authorities and stakeholders. The response to marine oil and chemical spills is based on multi-purpose vessels equipped for response operations. The Finnish Navy, Border Guard and several shipping companies participate on a regular basis with their vessels in national and international oil response exercises. The regional rescue departments are responsible for oil and chemical spill response in their respective territories, and they also participate in the response to chemical spills from ships. The Finnish Oil Pollution Fund participates in the financing of the preparedness to respond to oil spills on land and at sea. Large oil storage facilities and ports are obliged to be prepared for response to oil spills.

Öljyntorjunta meripuomi
Jouko Pirttijärvi, Image Bank of the Environmental Administration

Oil and chemical pollution at sea and in inland waters

Finland's minimum objective is to be able to respond at sea, with assistance from the neighbouring states, to a 30 000 tonne oil spill in the Gulf of Finland, a 20 000 tonne spill in the Archipelago Sea and a 5 000 tonne spill in the Gulf of Bothnia within three days when waters are open and within ten days when there is ice. In the Lake Saimaa deep water route the response to oil pollution is mainly concerned with cleaning the shores, with the realistic oil pollution scenario set at a spill of 300 tonnes.

In the marine archipelago and coastal areas, oil spill response actions must within one month from the time of the spill be able recover drifting oil and prevent it from reaching the shores of the inner archipelago. In coastal areas, the objective is to clean most of the shoreline within three months of the accident.

Tasks of the authorities and stakeholders

There are numerous authorities involved in the response to environmental damages. The key authorities are the Finnish Environment Institute, the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, municipalities, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, owners of multipurpose vessels e.g. the Finnish Navy, the rescue departments, the Finnish Border Guard and certain companies such as Meritaito Oy and owners of connection ferries equipped also for oil spill response. Also several organisations for volunteers (e.g. WWF Finland) participate in oil pollution response operations.


Magnus Nyström, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 250 212, firstname.lastname@ym.fi

Published 2015-02-10 at 10:30, updated 2017-09-19 at 9:33