Recent look at Finnish and Swedish pollution hot spots finds agriculture still a major problem

June 4, 2002
In a reevaluation of pollution in Finnish and Swedish waters, a recent regional workshop declared that agriculture was still a major problem.

June 4, 2002 -- In a reevaluation of pollution in Finnish and Swedish waters, a recent regional workshop declared that agriculture was still a major problem.

Conditions at 22 Finnish and Swedish pollution hot spots were re-assessed during the Eighth HELCOM PITF Regional Workshop in Stockholm on May 27-28, ten years after the launch of the Hot Spot Restoration Programme.

The workshop was attended by representatives of the authorities responsible, owners of the hot spots, and the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB).

The PITF preparatory group within HELCOM concluded that four pollution hot spots might be deleted from the list later this year, including metal smelters at Outokumpu in Finland and Boliden/Ronnskar in Sweden, Stockholm's wastewater treatment plants, and Finnish fish farms in the Archipelago and the Aland Sea.

The latest figures show that the fish farms in the Archipelago and the Aland Sea - jointly referred to as Hot Spot No 9 - now meet HELCOM's recommendation on fish farms. However, the farms give rise to local eutrophication problems, and are currently the main source of nutrients in that area.

Helsinki's wastewater treatment plant could also be removed from the hot spots list within the next few years, since further investments are in place to improve the efficiency of nitrogen- removal.

The issue of how to curb pollution coming from the mining wastes in Falun, Sweden, without endangering the cultural setting of this old mining town, remains unresolved. The mine has been active for hundreds of years, and its waste heaps form an important part of the local urban environment. But the quantities of metal pollution coming from the surroundings of this mine alone are similar to those discharged by the entire Swedish pulp and paper industry.

The current restoration program will end in 2006, and involves an investment of 100 million Swedish crowns.

Agricultural Hot Spots remain the significant source of pollution by nutrients. In Sweden, agriculture accounts for an estimated 40% of all the nitrogen from man-made sources entering the Baltic Sea, so reducing nutrient inputs from agriculture remains the biggest long-term challenge in Sweden, Finland and other coastal countries.

During the workshop HELCOM's PITF prepatory group also noted progress at ten pulp and paper plants in Finland and Sweden, and at one Finnish chemical plant (Kemira Pigments Oy) - all former hot spots which have been successfully cleaned up.

Hot Spots ( http://www.helcom.fi/environment/pollution/hotspots.html) are major pollution sites in the Baltic catchment area and have been listed under the Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme (JCP). The Programme Implementation Task Force (HELCOM PITF) works to carry out the measures identified in this long-term environmental management programme to restore the balance of the Baltic marine ecosystems.

Information about the location of individual hot spots, emissions and investments is available at BOING's interactive map. (Last update 2001)

The Helsinki Commission works to protect the Baltic marine environment from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental co-operation between Denmark, Estonia, European communities, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

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