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Cablegate: Oil Spill Expert Visits Finland

VZCZCXRO6965
RR RUEHLN
DE RUEHHE #0549 2000913
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190913Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3590
INFO RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 4097
RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN 4181
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 8640
RUEHRA/AMEMBASSY RIGA 0860
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS 3175
RUEHLN/AMCONSUL ST PETERSBURG 0142

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000549

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
COPENHAGEN FOR EST OFFICE
STATE for IIP/GLORIA STEELE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV OIIP EWWT EPET KPAO EN FI
SUBJECT: OIL SPILL EXPERT VISITS FINLAND


1. (U) Embassy Helsinki organized a two-day visit
by Dr. John Devens, Executive Director of the
Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory
Council (PWSRCAC), on May 18-19, 2007. Dr. Devens
was Mayor of Valdez, Alaska during the 1989 Exxon
Valdez oil spill. One of the first NGOs of its
kind, the PWSRCAC was created to provide citizens a
voice in the regional decisions of the oil industry
and to reduce pollution from oil transportation in
the region.

2. (U) Due to the rapid rise in oil transportation
in the Baltic Sea, oil spill prevention has emerged
as a very visible issue for Finnish citizens; the
GoF lists it as one of its top emergency response
concerns. Events during Dr. Devens' visit included
a visit to the Baltic Sea Traffic Coordination
Center in Helsinki, followed by a seminar on
combating oil spills organized by the US Embassy,
Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, and WWF
Finland. Dr. Devens delivered the keynote address
during the seminar which reached 150 people
interested in preparing for and preventing oil
spills in the Baltic Sea. Dr. Devens was also
interviewed by numerous journalists, garnering
extensive print, television, and radio coverage in
both Finnish and Swedish.

3. (U) Dr. Devens was also the guest of honor at a
dinner hosted by the Deputy Chief of Mission;
dinner participants included many of the leading
Finnish government and transportation security
experts, as well as Risto Volanen, State Secretary
in the Prime Minister's Office. On the second day
of his visit, Dr. Devens spoke to approximately 60
volunteers outside of Helsinki at a mock oil clean-
up exercise organized by NGO WWF Finland. The
participants were very interested in Dr. Devens'
first-hand experiences and his thoughts on proper
training and advance preparation in combating oil
spills.

4. (U) Dr. Devens was very effective at
communicating his message to each target audience.
His experience as Mayor of Valdez during a severe
crisis made it easy for him to sympathize with the
concerns and challenges faced by GoF authorities
and non-governmental organizations preparing to
deal with the consequences of a significant spill
in the Baltic Sea. Dr. Devens also participated in
an extensive program organized by Embassy Tallinn,
further highlighting this serious regional
challenge.


5. (U) Result: Dr. Devens' visit successfully
raised awareness about oil spill prevention in the
sensitive Baltic Sea region and it resulted in
favorable local press coverage and goodwill for the
Embassy, especially on the environmental front.
Dr. Devens was able to interact with a wide cross
section of Finnish society including government
officials, academics, journalists, business
contacts and interested citizens. The immediate
feedback from participants was very positive,
resulting in many fresh ideas and practical
guidance for planning and preparing for an oil
spill. Coming from a NGO background, Dr. Devens
shared clear examples on synergistic collaboration
between government, NGOs and private corporations.

6. (U) Post thanks IIP for excellent support in
bringing Dr. Devens to Finland. We look forward to
working further with IIP to schedule other speakers
in the future.
WARE

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