Collaboration to increase safety around the Baltic Sea

Many ports handle different types of dangerous goods and they are close to residential areas. When significant incidents occur, the countries' emergency services need to work together; to mitigate the consequences, they need to work quickly and efficiently.

The EU project Hazard has been led by the Finnish University of Turku. Nearly 30 higher education institutions, rescue services, ports and related organisations from around the Baltic Sea area have participated as partners.

“Hazard has been a very successful project that shows the benefits of close collaboration between industry, government authorities, and the research community. The University of Borås has, with its great drive and knowledge, contributed to the project's success," says Lauri Ojala, professor at the University of Turku.

The University of Borås's part of the project has been to investigate the regulations that affect traffic in a port. There are between 70 and 90 different directives at national, EU or international levels. Professor Daniel Ekwall and his colleagues have noted the conflicts that exist between the regulations and where there is room for interpretation. Small things can mean big costs.

"For example, a directive may state that there is to be a surrounding fence. But how high must it be? If this is not stated, it can be very expensive," says Daniel Ekwall, professor at the University of Borås. 

Released 12 tonnes of popcorn

The focus of the project has been several major exercises. In the Port of Turku, 400 civilians participated in an oil leakage exercise and a fire on a boat. In another exercise in Hamburg, 12 tonnes of popcorn were released to represent oil spills. A third example related to ammonium leakage from a container.

"Rescue services locally are good at these things; the problems arise when a country needs to take in help. What we have seen is that it is important to practice a lot, to have standardised language and standardised equipment, and last but not least, to get to know one other.  If the emergency services personnel get to know each other when it is quiet and calm, then they work better together in an emeergency situation," says Daniel Ekwall.

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About Hazard

Daniel Ekwalls research profile

Text: Lina Färm
Photo: Mariikka Whiteman