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Huge oil spill exercise brings 70 ships to Gulf of Finland

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

An international oil spill recovery exercise, the largest of its kind in the Baltic Sea region, started Tuesday off the coast of Helsinki, Finland. The disaster exercise involves more than 20 oil spill response vessels and more than 50 other ships from countries around the Baltic Sea and from the European Maritime Safety Agency.

More than 500 participants are practising their response on a pre-arranged situation resembling an oil accident in the Gulf of Finland.

The mock accident occurred on Monday. The Finnish authorities began their part of the exercise on Tuesday, and the international part will be held on Wednesday.

The oil spill response exercise, known as Balex Delta, is an annual event arranged since 1989 under the aegis of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM). This year it is coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

The Gulf of Finland is considered one of the world's busiest -- and most vulnerable -- sea areas. Last year authorities detected 57 oil spills in Finnish territorial waters.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.