Rescue authorities have discovered and study reports confirmed that there is a lack of operational plans and standard operational procedures (SOP) for search and rescue (SAR) operations applicable to cases of hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) incidents in the Baltic Sea Region. As large quantities of different chemicals are transported by sea, there is a clear risk of accidents. Such demanding maritime accidents in this area are almost always international in nature, which emphasizes the importance of common procedures and a common level of know-how.
The ChemSAR project has responded to this challenge and created operational plans and SOPs needed in SAR operations involving HNS. These guidelines, when applied, increase the safety for rescue operations for both the rescuees and the rescue crews. Swifter rescue operations also minimize the impact on the environment. In addition to these guidelines, the project has developed an eLearning environment and material to enhance and harmonize the level of know-how in the area, which also has an impact on the safety of rescue operations. Furthermore, it has produced a chemical data portal to serve as a source of information not only in rescue operations but also when using the eLearning material. The project outcome has been piloted in tabletop and simulator exercises and in an international rescue exercise at sea to test the applicability of the project results in practice. Feedback was collected from the exercise participants and, additionally, the live exercise was evaluated by external evaluators. These have been taken into account when finalizing the project products.
The Baltic Sea countries have different national practices for maritime HNS accidents, but these incidents call for joint rescue operations and procedures. The project partners represent the rescue authorities, i.e. the project’s main target groups. Altogether nine project partners from five countries in the Baltic Sea Region have taken part in the project. The total budget of the project was EUR 2.5 million, and it was partly financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme.
The lead partner of the project was the Centre for Maritime Studies of the Brahea Centre at the University of Turku (FI). Other partners were the Finnish Border Guard (FI), NOVIA University of Applied Sciences, Marine Technology (FI), Helsinki City Rescue Department (FI), Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (EE), Swedish Coast Guard Headquarters (SE), Klaipėda University (LT), Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg/Ministry of Environment and Energy/Department of Emission Control/Fire Brigade Hamburg (DE,) and Central Command for Maritime Emergencies Germany (Haveriekommando) (DE).