Following discussions at the International Maritime Organization, the Finnish Border Guard has shared a manual which was developed as part of the ChemSAR project.

The document contains important information valuable to any country or IMRF member wishing to establish their own procedures or operational plans for maritime search and rescue (SAR) incidents involving hazardous and noxious substances (HNS).

The ChemSAR project started when the Finnish Border Guard realised there was an information gap in this area.

Enormous volumes of different chemicals are transported by sea every day and as a result there’s always a risk of a major incident. 

By the nature of the industry, maritime accidents are almost always international which highlights the need for common procedures and a basic level of global knowledge.

Lieutenant Commander Kimmo Ahvonen from the Finnish Border Guard explained - “The ChemSAR manual is a useful and comprehensive practical resource, offering a good grounding for any SAR organisation wanting to update or prepare its operational plans for an HNS SAR scenario." 

Theresa Crossley, CEO IMRF says -"Our thanks go to the Finnish Border Guard for sharing this valuable project and its outcomes, allowing IMRF members and others around the world to plan and anticipate the resources and skills needed in such a complex situation."

The procedures in the ChemSAR manual improve the safety of rescue operations for both the rescue crews and the rescued. 

The e-learning materials offer a way to share basic knowledge across the SAR community enabling joint transnational rescue operations in the future, while the Chemical Dataportal provides easy access to reliable, relevant, practical information on dealing with HNS in rescue operations.

All of the ChemSAR procedures, e-learning materials and the Dataportal have been comprehensively tested, or piloted, by end-users, including in three international exercises. 

The first of which was a tabletop exercise in June 2017, then a simulator exercise in October 2017 and a live exercise in Sept 2018.  In each case the testing was carried out by the relevant authorities responsible for maritime SAR.

Altogether nine project partners from five countries in the Baltic Sea Region took part in the project which ran from March 2016 – February 2019 and was partly funded by the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme.

ChemSAR was granted the label of a flagship project under the Priority Area SAFE in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR).

The lead partner of the project was the Centre for Maritime Studies of the Brahea Centre at the University of Turku.

The other partners included the Finnish Border Guard, NOVIA University of Applied Sciences, Marine Technology, Helsinki City Rescue Department, Estonian Police and Border Guard Board, Swedish Coast Guard Headquarters, Klaipėda University, Free and Hanseatic City if Hamburg/Ministry of Environment and Energy/Department of Emission Control/Fire Brigade Hamburg and the Central Command for Maritime Emergencies Germany.

For more information and to download the manual click here