Estonia Lacks Resources to Control Large Scale Oil Spills, Says Expert ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The government has been too passive in increasing Estonia's capacity to combat larger oil spills, said the head of the Estonian Fund for Nature, Silvia Lotman.

Lotman told on Monday, that spills of over 50 tons occur a few times a decade in Estonia, but tankers with hundreds of thousands of tons of crude oil pass through the Gulf of Finland and human error could cause accidents with devastating consequences..

Helsingin Sanomat reported at the beginning of July that last October, a Greek tanker carrying 100,000 tons of crude oil, was just minutes away from causing the region's biggest-ever environmental catastrophe.

“It is common sense that a nation such as Estonia, with a long and complicated coastline, should prepare for situations where larger or smaller volumes of petroleum has reached the sea,” Lotman said.

Lotman said that Estonia currently has four ships capable of cleaning up spilled crude, but at least six more modern vessels are needed, adding that plans for emergencies include the use of volunteers, but legislation on volunteers is spotty.

A special tax on petroleum transport companies should be put into effect, that would be channeled directly to a disaster fund, similar to the 25 million euros Finland annually collects, Lotman said.