Out of the Fire into the Frying-pan? From Fires to Hazardous & Noxious Substances and SAR

on . Posted in LIFELINE February 2017 - English

Juho Kurttio, Deputy Manager of the Finnish Border Guard’s Baltic Sea Maritime Incident Response Group (MIRG) Project, writes at the conclusion of the project:

The Baltic Sea MIRG project (see ‘Ship fires in the Baltic’ in the December 2016 edition of LIFE LINE) has now ended and we here at the Finnish Border Guard would like to thank all who have taken part in the project. Especially we would like to express our gratitude to all partners and stakeholders for your efforts, valuable contributions and cooperation. It really has been a great experience with great results!

In addition, we would like to thank all MIRG actors across Europe for your valuable inputs, comments and ideas — direct or indirect. Without your great cooperation none of the project's results would have seen daylight!

The Baltic Sea MIRG project's results (5 reports), including the operational guidelines and a summary report which contains the key results and future recommendations, can be found on the project website: www.raja.fi/MIRG.

As the Baltic Sea MIRG project made contributions to the international MIRG operating environment on the Baltic Sea, one important point should be made regarding cooperation and co-work. One significant consequence of earlier and ongoing MIRG projects across Europe has been the formation of an informal MIRG expert network — and we think this has shown in this project and should be cherished in future as it is one of the most important results for future MIRG development.

We are now shifting our focus to another project as the Finnish Border Guard is participating as a partner in the ChemSAR project 2016-2019, which will again utilise MIRG knowledge and experience.

There is a lack of operational plans and standard operational procedures (SOPs) for SAR operations applicable to cases of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) incidents in the Baltic Sea Region, according to rescue authorities and study reports. There are large quantities of different chemicals transported by sea and the risk of accidents exists. Demanding maritime accidents are almost always international in nature in the Baltic, which emphasises the significance of common procedures and common level of know-how in saving human lives at sea.

The ChemSAR project will create the operational plans and SOPs needed so that the lives of the rescue crews will be protected and the impact on the environment will be minimised. It will develop e-learning material to enhance and harmonize the level of know-how to ensure safe rescue operations and a chemical data bank to act as the basis for information-seeking in rescue operations and e-learning. The project outcome will be piloted in a chart exercise and in an international rescue exercise at sea to test the applicability of the project results in practice.

The Baltic Sea countries have different national practices for maritime HNS accidents but these incidents call for joint rescue operations and procedures. The project partners represent the rescue authorities; the project's main target groups. Altogether nine project partners from five countries in the Baltic Sea Region will take part. The total budget of the project is €2.5m and is partly financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme.

If you have any questions, inquiries or comments to make, please contact sar@raja.fi. (Please note that the MIRG project e-mail address previously disseminated will eventually be shut down.)

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