4. März 2005

Russia blocks new environmental guidelines in Baltic Sea Region


Russia blocks new guidelines on requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for harmful installations in the Baltic Sea Region,
at the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) meeting 1-2 March 2005.
CCB requests HELCOM to assess the problem of Industrial hog rearing farms in the Baltic Sea Region.

HELCOM adopted a recommendation in 1996, with requirements for EIAs for new harmful installations, to inform HELCOM and neighbouring countries, when planning for such new installations. Such information would give neighbouring countries a chance to comment and influence on restrictions for new installations with a transboundry environmental impact on the Baltic Sea environment.

Because of unclear interpretation of this recommendation, HELCOM has
developed draft guidelines on how to conduct an EIA procedure in a harmonized way, to be adopted by HELCOM 1 March 2005. This would give more precise requirements for information to be presented to HELCOM countries, when a new potential harmful intstallation, e.g. oil-terminals, oil extraction etc, is planned for.
HELCOM has for more than one year tried to develop new guidelines, but Russia stemmed the attempt at the HELCOM meeting. New guidelines will be postponed, at least until the next HELCOM Heads of Delegation meeting in June 2005.

The reason for such Russian position to delay the decision might be to avoid any environmental transboundary considerations with planned new oil-terminals and harbours in the Russian part of Gulf of Finland and Kaliningrad region the coming years.

CCB asked HELCOM to convey an assessment in all Baltic Sea region countries to get a clear picture on the environmental conditions at all small- and medium-sized (<> 2000 pigs) animal farms. Such industrial farms contribute considerably to the nutrient run-off and eutrophication of the Baltic Sea.
The CCB member organisation, Green Federation Gaja in Poland, has performed a study on environmental conditions at industrial pig farms in Poland, especially related to the implementation of the EU directive on integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) for industrial farms, and the EU Nitrate Directive. (Download the study, "Progress Report - Agricultural Pollution from Industrial Hog Rearing Farms in Poland")

The outcome of the study shows a bad implementation of the IPPC directive in Poland. Less than 50 % of the farms have applied for integrated permits and “fertilization plans” are missing for manure handling for many industrial farms.
-“The situation in Poland is disastrous. Most industrial pig rearing farms should be closed down immediately. They are operating only because regional environmental inspections tolerate this state and are still waiting for farms to adopt to the new regulations” - says Anna Roggenbuck, Green Federation Gaja

HELCOM accepted CCB's proposal and decided also to assess the implementation of existing regulations with regard to large scale animal farms in all Baltic Sea Region countries, and investigate the possibilities and need to develop BAT (Best Available Technology) description for smaller animal farms, not covered by the IPPC directive.

For more information contact:
Gunnar Norén, CCB Executive secretary,
phone +46-18-71 11 70, mobile +46-70-560 53 52;

HELCOM announces Action Plan for Baltic Sea

Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM)

HELCOM to develop Action Plan for the Baltic Sea

Dispatched March 3, 2005; for Immediate release

Helsinki, 3 March (HELCOM) – The Chair of the Helsinki Commission, Mr Arturas Daubaras announced today that HELCOM will begin to develop an Action Plan based on Ecological Quality Objectives in order to achieve a healthy Baltic Sea. This decision was unanimously adopted by representatives of all the Baltic Sea countries at the 26th annual Meeting of the Helsinki Commission, which took place 1-2 March in Helsinki, Finland. The draft European Marine Strategy, now being elaborated by the EU, foresees a separate action plan for each of the European seas. “HELCOM from now on will take the lead and play a key role, involving all stakeholders, in the development of the regional plan for the Baltic,” said Arturas Daubaras.

It was decided that the ongoing HELCOM work to develop Ecological Quality Objectives for the Baltic will provide the foundation for such an Action Plan. The Ecological Quality and associated indicators will be used to evaluate the efficiency of the existing environmental measures and to guide the future management measures for the region.

The Meeting adopted three new Recommendations on measures to prevent pollution in the Baltic Sea area.
The Recommendation on monitoring radioactive substance has been designed to support further efforts to protect the Baltic Sea against the possible harmful effects of radioactive substances by facilitating the compilation of reliable data on radionuclides in the different compartments of the marine environment.
The Recommendation on waterborne pollution load will require HELCOM countries to collect more reliable assessments of the waterborne loads of pollutants entering the Baltic Sea from land-based sources in order to facilitate concerted action to limit the pollution of the marine environment.
The third adopted Recommendation extends, as of 1 January 2006, the so called "no-special-fee" system, which has so far only covered oily wastes from machinery spaces, to also encompass garbage and sewage generated on ships. The no-special-fee system has the dual purpose of encouraging ships to dispose of their waste ashore instead of into the sea, while also encouraging that the waste burden is suitably shared, thus avoiding undesirable waste streams between ports. Such measures are vital in the implementation of the Baltic Strategy, which aims to substantially reduce the number of operational and illegal polluting discharges at sea.

One of the most important discussions at the Meeting focused on ways to enhance cooperation and coordination between the Helsinki Commission and the EU in order to ensure that hazardous substances threatening the Baltic Sea environment are adequately addressed at appropriate level. Representatives of the coastal countries discussed proposals for drawing the attention of the European Community to issues of specific concern to the Baltic Sea, such as dioxins. In addition, the Meeting emphasized the need to scrutinize whether proposed EU measures fully cover the needs of the unique Baltic Sea or if more specific hand-tailored HELCOM measures are required.

Representatives of the Baltic Sea States also discussed further measures to reduce airborne nitrogen based on a report identifying sources and assessing the adequacy of requirements for these particular sources of airborne nitrogen. About a quarter of the total nitrogen input to the Baltic Sea is coming from airborne nitrogen deposited directly on the Baltic Sea. As a significant share of the pollution entering the Baltic Sea originates in non-Contracting Parties, the Meeting also emphasized the importance of enhancing cooperation with Belarus, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

The Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental co-operation between the countries bordering the sea - Denmark, Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.
HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," more usually known as the Helsinki Convention.

For more information, please contact:

Nikolay Vlasov
Information Secretary
Tel.: +358 (0) 9 62 20 2235
Mobile: +358 (0) 50 56 34 932
Fax: +358 9 6220 2239
(Information source: Environmental Network "Coalition Clean Baltic" CCB, Östra ?gatan 53, SE-753 22 UPPSALA, SwedenPhone: +46 18 71 11 55Fax: +46 18 71 11 75 www.ccb.se)