Environmental risks

Due to climate change, extreme weather conditions will increase and forecasting will become more difficult. Invasive alien 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, diminishing biodiversity, deterioration of air quality and the challenges posed by extreme weather phenomena. Preparing for these risks is done through organised actions.

In Helsinki, the Rescue Department is in charge of the response to accidents caused by exceptional weather conditions. The situations caused by exceptional weather conditions are often wide-scale and long-term in nature and require cooperation and external resources. In 2020, cooperation was developed with both the City’s internal and external operators. The City’s preparedness for various weather conditions is also developed through various working groups, which gained representatives of the Rescue Department in 2020. As a concrete exercise, Stara organised a training exercise to erect a flood wall in Tattarisuo in autumn 2020.

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. The participants in oil spill response training include several representatives of interest groups, and cooperation with volunteers in oil spill prevention is being developed. In 2020, the longest-term and most laborious prevention work was carried out in Kivikko sports park, where fuel was repeatedly carried by stormwater to the creek. All in all, the efforts to prevent fuel continued for a month, but the source of the fuel remained unclear.

At the start of 2021, the national Strategy for Preventing Environmental Offences 2021–2026 was updated. The strategy is implemented in Helsinki through close collaboration between bodies such as environmental supervision authorities and the police. Several incidents that lead to suspicion of environmental offences occur in Helsinki every year. The range of offences is wide, and environmental offences often also constitute financial offences when the offences are committed for financial gain, for example by neglecting waste management costs or investments that are significant in terms of environmental protection. The police and environmental supervision authorities of the City also carry out joint supervision projects when resources allow. Other key partner authorities cooperating with Helsinki’s environmental supervision authorities include the Regional State Administrative Agency for 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.

Table 9. Oil spills in Helsinki in 2017–2020.

In water bodies75135225
In important groundwater basins1111211
In other areas278366329325