The Finnish Navy will launch a diving operation in the Archipelago Sea with the aim to empty the fuel tanks of shipwreck Beatris of oil. The shipwreck could become a source of oil spills in the near future.
One of the aims of the programme to enhance the effectiveness of water protection, coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, is to locate and clean up hazardous shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea. Before this, three shipwrecks that may cause risks have been cleaned up.
Ministry of the Environment, Finnish Navy and Finnish Border Guard
Motor vessel Beatris sank in the sea area of Iniö in 1981. The vessel was carrying crushed stone, and the material that fell on the fuel tanks must first be pumped off to be able to drill into the tank.
The operation, which will take about two weeks, will start at sea on 14 October and the actual work is expected to start at the end of the week. The responsibility for the operation rests with the Finnish Navy. The oil spill response vessel Halli of the Finnish Navy will serve as the support vessel for the operation. Besides divers of the Finnish Navy, divers of the Finnish Boarder Guard will also participate in the operation.
In the programme to enhance the effectiveness of water protection efforts are made to locate and examine shipwrecks in the territorial waters of Finland that may be the source of oil spills in the near future. The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) estimates that there are over a thousand old shipwrecks in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zone of Finland that have used oil as their fuel or have carried oil or other hazardous substances. An estimated about twenty of these are high-risk shipwrecks, i.e. there is a risk that they may rust through or they are located close to important or sensitive nature sites.
In 2020-2021 dredger Veli was cleaned up off the coast of Hanko, and dry cargo ship Hanna-Marjut and frigate Fortuna in the sea area of Kihti. The project has also included training on clean-up operations and information gathering and research visits to shipwrecks that may pose risks.
A new model is proposed for the management of the environmental hazard caused by shipwrecks after the clean-up where possible cooperation between the private sector and public authorities is also taken into account.
The rescue services of the area concerned have also been informed about the diving operation. Measures will be taken to prepare for possible minor oil spills during the operation. The vessel Halli carries robust open sea booms and absorption booms, just in case. The response vessel of the Southwest Finland Emergency Services will also be present on the site for the duration of the operation.
The programme to enhance the effectiveness of water protection 2019-2023 is a major effort to promote water protection: the aim is a good status of the Baltic Sea and inland waters. The measures included in the programme reduce nutrient loading from agriculture and forestry to waters, clean shipwrecks of oil, restore water bodies and reduce the levels of harmful substances in urban waters.