Environmental risks

Due to climate change, extreme weather conditions will increase and forecasting will become more difficult. Invasive species also cause harm, and the risk of an oil incident in the Baltic Sea is great. From the City’s perspective, the most significant environmental risks are fires, oil and chemical spills, soil and water contamination, deterioration of air quality, diminishing biodiversity, disruptions in the railway network, and the challenges posed by extreme weather phenomena to healthcare, in particular. Preparing for these risks is done through organised actions.

Climate change was named one of the fifteen risk categories in the Helsinki Group’s assessment of significant risks in 2019. The report describes the current and new risk management methods, as well as the effectiveness, probability and urgency of the risks and the management’s opportunities to influence them. Recognising climate change as its own risk category promotes integrating climate change adaptation work as part of the City’s risk management whole.

In 2019, the Helsinki City Rescue Department hired a fire marshal, a significant portion of whose working time is related to exceptional weather conditions.

In the event of an oil spill, preventative actions will be carried out in accordance with the oil spill prevention plan in effect in the Helsinki Rescue Services’ area. Several co-operation partners will participate in the operations as agreed. The Helsinki City Rescue Department’s oil spill prevention depot is located in Santahamina. Helsinki Zoo’s responsibility to act in the event of an oil spill was defined in connection with the international BALEX oil spill exercise in 2012. Since 2014, the Zoo’s vet has acted as the WWF’s Chief Veterinarian in regard to oil spills. In 2019, an oil spill response exercise was organised at Helsinki Zoo in co-operation with the WWF, the Helsinki City Rescue Department, the Finnish Environment Institute and Metsähallitus.

The national strategy for preventing environmental offences is implemented in Helsinki through close collaboration between bodies such as environmental supervision authorities and the police. The police and environmental supervision authorities of the City also carry out joint supervision projects when resources allow. In 2019, several suspected environmental crimes affecting water bodies were investigated in co-operation with the police. Other environmental monitoring authorities co-operating with the Helsinki’s environmental supervision authorities include the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland, Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the Finnish Environment Institute, Customs, the Tax Administration and the Prosecutor's Office of Helsinki.

Oil spills in Helsinki

In water bodies31751352
In important groundwater basins1011112
In other areas303278366329
In 2019, 383 different oil spills occurred in Helsinki.