Skip to main content

1997, Alta, Norway

Senior Arctic Officials Report to Ministers for the FOURTH MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

on THE ARCTIC ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION STRATEGY (AEPS)

JUNE 12-13, 1997

ALTA, NORWAY

(Selections from the report.)

2.4 EMERGENCY PREVENTION, PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE (EPPR)

Under the AEPS, the Arctic countries agreed to a “frame work for taking early cooperative action on emergency prevention preparedness and response in the Arctic” (Chapter 8, The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy). EPPR is a network for information on Arctic accidents and for facilitating cooperation among the Arctic states in the areas of emergency prevention, preparedness and response. One goal of the Working Group is to identify gaps where there are unsatisfactory response mechanisms and make recommendations on how to solve such problems. EPPR is not a response organization.

The SAAOs take note of the status report presented by EPPR and note the following progress by EPPR on the 5 priorities outlined in the Inuvik Ministerial Report.

    2.4.1 Completing the Arctic Guide for Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response

    The SAAOs welcome “the Arctic Guide for Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response” as an instrument for improved information exchange and cooperation for mutual aid in case of accidents in the Arctic. The SAAOs recommend that the Ministers take note of the Arctic Guide for EPPR and encourage the Arctic countries to make use of the Guide as appropriate. The SAAOs also recommend that the Arctic Guide be updated periodically.

    2.4.2 Contributing to the development of preventative, mitigating and response measures for oil and gas accidental releases in the Arctic

    The SAAOs note that EPPR contributed to the “Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines” developed by PAME with the drafting of Chapter IX on Preparedness and Response.

    2.43 Preparing an analysis of the effectiveness of existing accident reporting systems

    The SAAOs note that EPPR has adopted a work plan for the analysis of existing accident notification systems. The SAAOs recommend that the Ministers request reports on this project at future Arctic Council meetings to identify any gaps in coverage or any communication difficulties.

    2.4.4 Refining the Risk Analysis on Environmental Threats to the Arctic (including an assessment of the need for future action)

    The SAAOs note the refining of the Risk Analysis on Environmental Threats to the Arctic. The Risk Analysis identifies the high priority risks for emergencies in the Arctic.

    2.4.5 Analyzing the adequacy and effectiveness of existing international agreements and other arrangements in the Arctic within EPPR’s area of expertise

    The SAAOs note that the EPPR working group has adopted a procedure for data collection on the analysis of the adequacy and effectiveness of existing international agreements and arrangements in the Arctic and look forward to the completion of this project. The analysis will identify existing gaps in coverage and response for prevention, preparedness and response, and provide the information required to make recommendations for improvement.

    2.4.6 Other activities

    Review of Shipping Activities in the Arctic. The SAAOs note the report from the Russian Federation proposing the development of a strategy for the ecologically-safe transportation of oil in the Arctic Area.

    The SAAOs note that the ongoing work on the development of an International Code of Safety for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) is of significant importance for emergency prevention, preparedness and response in the Arctic area.

    Field Guide for Arctic Oil Spill Response. The SAAOs note the progress made to date in organizing work on the Field Guide and recommend that the Ministers request that the Guide be submitted for approval at the next Arctic Council meeting. The Guide will provide a systematic and scientific approach to developing priorities for clean up of marine oil spills and for developing strategies which will protect the environment.

    2.4.7 Future work on prevention, preparedness and response to the threat of environmental accidents

    The SAAOs recommend that the Ministers endorse continued cooperative activities to identify means of improving emergency prevention, preparedness and response. To this end, the SAAOs recommend that the Ministers extend the mandate for the program area.

    The SAAOs agree that a strategic plan of action containing the future course of the Working Group’s current projects, and for prioritizing future recommendations, shall be presented in draft at the October 1997 senior officials meeting. Future work for this program area should prioritize the following activities for reporting at upcoming senior officials meetings and for presentation at future Arctic Council meetings:

  • refinement of the Risk Analysis;
  • a technical capability analysis to develop source control management and prevention strategies for high priority risks identified by EPPR; updating as needed of the Arctic Guide;
  • completion of the Field Guide for Arctic Oil Spill Response;
  • analysis of the adequacy and effectiveness of existing international agreements and arrangements;
  • a report on the effectiveness of existing accident notification systems; and
  • a project proposal on the development of a Circumpolar Map of Natural Resources at Risk from Oil Spills.