Dumping snow in a truck, Source: Depositphotos

Disposing of excess snow in the sea will become illegal in Helsinki

Disposing of excess snow in the sea will become illegal in Helsinki

The aim is to improve the quality of seawater and to provide a better environment for the marine life

The Finnish Ministry of the Environment is seeking to change the law on environmental protection, more specifically to ban the practice of dumping snow into the sea. The aim of the proposed amendment is to reduce seawater pollution and protect marine life. As things stand, the restrictions would mostly affect the capital Helsinki as this is where the practice of cleaning snow and then disposing of it in the port is a common practice.

It’s not the snow itself that is the problem but the fact that when it falls in the urban environment and then gets swept up it gets mixed with sand and other debris, such as plastics, cigarette butts and trash.

This garbage has different effects on marine animals. Animals can get stuck in bigger pieces of trash and microplastics can end up in animals' digestion tracts and then back [to humans] in the food chain," says Henna Rinne, an environmental specialist at the ministry, as quoted by Yle.

Slow to implement change

Dumping snow into the sea is easy and convenient as it is just adding water to water, plus it avoids the problem of having to put away all that frozen mass on land where it takes space until warmer temperatures arrive. Nevertheless, other Finnish cities, such as Oulu and Turku, dump their excess snow on land, rather than in the water.

In the Finnish capital, snow duping is most common near the port areas. Other districts, however, resort to using the so-called snow dumping grounds.

In 2019, the City of Helsinki agreed in principle that the practice must be abandoned. Yet, bureaucracy gets in the way since the Regional State Administration Agency has granted a permit for sea dumping valid until 2031. It thus remains unclear when the practice will be abandoned for good.



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