The Ministry of the Environment commissioned additional research in the Gulf of Finland to obtain an objective overview of the impact of the Nord Stream gas pipeline on the Estonian marine environment.
“The envisaged large-scale construction of the gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea could cause significant damage to the Estonian marine environment,” said Jaanus Tamkivi, Minister of the Environment. “The developer does conduct environmental surveys, but it is insufficient for Estonia.”
According to Tamkivi, marine studies are urgently needed in the eastern part of the Gulf of Finland and alongside the length of the Gulf, where the construction can be expected to have the strongest impact on the marine environment. “Our additional surveys should cover the Tallinn-Helsinki line and the marine areas, located eastward of that line in the exclusive economic zone of Estonia,” Tamkivi specified. “These are the areas with the largest extent of expected disturbances in bottom deposits, which, in our opinion, has not been sufficiently covered in the surveys of the Nord Stream project itself.”
The researchers of the Marine Systems Institute at the Tallinn University of Technology, in cooperation with the Estonian Marine Institute at the University of Tartu, started their surveys in May in order to record the condition of the marine environment in the Gulf of Finland before the start of construction of the gas pipeline. They can use the research vessel Salme of the Marine Systems Institute, which has been furnished with the necessary equipment.
During the first stage of research, the scientists collected samples of bottom deposits to determine the heavy metals and dioxins content, assessed the condition of the bottom biota in the immediate vicinity of the pipeline route, measured the properties of the water column and the quality of water (temperature, salinity, oxygen content, turbidity, nutrient content, etc.). They will also analyse the dioxin content in the fish caught from the Gulf of Finland. This all is required to record the pre-construction status.
Further surveys will be conducted during and immediately after the installation of the gas pipeline. The surveys will include measurements of water quality and installation of survey buoys, which will transmit information on the speed of currents, water turbidity, oxygen content, temperature and salinity during the construction of the gas pipeline. There will also be a repeat survey of the deposits and biota, comparable to the pre-construction survey. Additional plans include studying the long-term impact of the gas pipeline after a few years.
The research will be conducted according to the construction schedule of the Nord Stream gas pipeline and it will be financed by the Environmental Research Centre. The cost of this multi-annual project will be over four million Estonian kroons.
Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment