Waves, wind and warm weather help break up Baltic Sea fuel spill

The fuel spill covered an area of the Baltic Sea off the capital's south coast.

Map showing south Helsinki coast where oil spill happened / Credit: Google Maps

A fuel spill off the coast of Helsinki is breaking up, as favourable weather conditions help rescue crews with their work.

The spill was discovered on Sunday evening and covered the sea around Ullanlinna and Kaivopuisto, off the southern coast of the capital.

Efforts to locate the source of the spill and the initial cleanup operation were hampered by darkness but on Monday morning rescue crews from Helsinki, plus the Coast Guard, were back on scene.

“It seems that most of the oil has moved away because the wind divides it in different directions, and it also vaporises in the warmer temperatures” explains Taisto Hakala from Helsinki Rescue Department.

“If we compare the situation this morning to before, there’s no more oil and probably it has already gone out to sea” he adds.

The fuel was a light film on top of the water which made it difficult to clean, but crews initially put a barrier around the spill to stop it spreading as much as possible, then use an organic substance with similar properties to peat, to absorb the fuel.

“In this case when the fuel is so light it’s very difficult to divide it from water, so usually it vaporises in this kind of weather when we have summer temperatures and in the afternoon the sun will probably come out and the process will be quicker” Hakala tells News Now Finland.

The Coast Guard and Helsinki Police will be in charge of investigating how the spill happened, whether it came from a leaking fuel tank on a boat at one of the coastal harbours, or whether it came from a source on land.