EMSA joins the Balex Delta pollution response exercise in Finland
EMSA is taking part in the Balex Delta 2021 large-scale HNS and pollution response exercise, held on 24 and 25 August.
In the exercise scenario, two tankers collide in the Gulf of Finland, resulting in oil and hazardous materials being released into the sea. The exercise, organised by the Finnish Border Guard, includes participants and resources from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Poland and Sweden.
EMSA is contributing with the Agency’s Oil Spill Response Vessel (OSRV) Norden, the vessel’s on board Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), and with additional pollution response equipment from the EMSA Equipment Assistance Service (EAS) for use on board other Member State vessels.
EMSA currently has 17 OSRV on standby around the European coastline ready to react in case of an oil spill emergency. For this exercise, EMSA mobilised the OSRV Norden, based in Malmo, Sweden.
The Norden will be joining in with the activities taking place on 25 August, a day dedicated specifically to coordinating large-scale oil spill response operations at sea. The EMSA vessel will use its rigid sweeping arms for oil recovery and will simulate ship-to-ship fuel transfer operations with some of the other participating vessels.
The lightweight RPAS on board the Norden will also be used during the exercise. The purpose of the on board RPAS is to assist in the response operations under the command of the On-Scene Commander. The RPAS can identify areas of pollution and make clean-up operations more efficient by providing indications of the slick thickness, in line with the Bonn Agreement Oil Appearance Code. The exercise organisers are also able to view activities occurring at sea in real time through a live RPAS video stream.
Stand-alone pollution response equipment from EMSA’s Equipment Assistance Service (EAS) stockpile in Tolkkinen, Finland (one of four EMSA equipment stockpiles across Europe) will be deployed by selected Member State vessels.
EMSA conducts regular drills to ensure that its services and assets are in full operational readiness at all times, but a multi-national exercise like the Balex Delta allows it to train with other assets as part of combined task forces, and to ensure that the request and command chains work effectively.
The Balex Delta exercise is an annual activity, which takes place under the umbrella of HELCOM, the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. The organisation of the event rotates annually between the HELCOM member countries.