Six pollution hot spots cleaned up in the Baltic Sea

​​​​​​Six waste water treatment plants were approved for deletion from the HELCOM Hot Spot list by the high-level Baltic coastal country representatives, ending their meeting last Friday in Helsinki, Finland. The six Hot Spots, listed as significant pollution sites in the Baltic Sea catchment area, are all located in the Polish terrain: three in Warsaw area and the rest in Krakow, Lublib and Poznan. The Heads of Delegation also pushed forward a large amount activities pursued within the HELCOM regional framework, covering the key segments of the Baltic Sea Action Plan: eutrophication, biodiversity, hazardous substances and maritime activities.

The HELCOM list of Hot Spots, with 162 sites identified as very major pollution sources originating from municipal and industrial waste water treatment, agriculture, as well as industrial sites, has only one quarter of Hot Spots left. The list was originally established as a part of the Baltic Sea Joint Comprehensive Environmental Action Programme (JCP, 1992–2013). The six cleaned up pollution sites are all large urban waste water treatments plants, leaving only four HELCOM listed waste water treatment plants left in Poland.

Improving municipal waste water treatment is a highly cost-efficient measure to reduce phosphorus loads, a major cause of pollution in the Baltic Sea. This sector still has potential for achieving reductions in the overall inputs to the sea. Many cities in the Baltic Sea region have improved their treatment standards in recent years, and are meeting the requirements set by the EU Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive. HELCOM has recommended even stricter standards to save the sensitive marine environment of the Baltic Sea which needs to be fulfilled in order for a municipal Hot Spot to be mitigated. As there are also hazardous substances in municipal and industrial waste water, concern has increased for minimizing the impact of substances such as pharmaceuticals and microplastics.

See the article and find out more about the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) here.