Good news from the Baltic shows that clean up efforts have been rewarded

The Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), the organisation which promotes the prevention of pollution into the Baltic Sea has announced that the region has reached its 50% reduction goal.

In 1988, the environment ministers of all the countries bordering the Baltic Sea declared their goal of reducing 47 hazardous substances, such as dioxins and antifouling agents, into the Sea by 50%. According to a report released by the organisation which investigated 72 hazardous substances, the discharges of substances into the Baltic Sea has been largely reduced since then using both legal means and production processes and retention systems which, in the case of a number of countries have been brought about by profound socio-economic changes, such as in Lithuania and Estonia. The use of leaded vehicle fuel, for example, has significantly decreased in all of the countries, and even phased out in some regions.

“We appreciate the achievements by our contracting parties,” said HELCOM Chairman Peter Ehlers. “But having reached the 50% reduction goal is only the first step in the right direction. We must reduce discharges, emissions, and losses of hazardous substances even further.”

High concentrations of hazardous substances do still remain in the Baltic Sea, says HELCOM, which now aims to phase out discharges and emissions of such substances entirely by 2020.

The Nordic Council of Ministers has also announced this week that the traditional perception that the Baltic is cleaner on the northern side is not quite true, with the water along the coast of Estonia now being considerably cleaner than along the Finnish coast (see related story).

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