ABSTRACT

Aps, R.; Tõnisson, H.; Suursaar, Ü., and Orviku, K, 2016. Regional Environmental Sensitivity Index (RESI) Classification of Estonian Shoreline (Baltic Sea). In: Vila-Concejo, A.; Bruce, E.; Kennedy, D.M., and McCarroll, R.J. (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th International Coastal Symposium (Sydney, Australia). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 75, pp. 972 - 976. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

Despite improving navigation safety measures, there is a growing risk of accidental oil spills and associated oil pollution on the Baltic Sea, an area which has been designated as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area by the International Maritime Organization. Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps have been an integral component of oil-spill contingency planning and response in the United States since 1979, serving as a quick reference for oil spill responders. The ESI ranks shoreline into 10 classes in relation to sensitivity, natural persistence of oil, and ease of clean-up. Some countries outside the US have adopted the ESI approach to classify their own shorelines for similar oil spill contingency planning, the resulting maps being referred to as Regional Environmental Sensitivity Index (RESI) maps. However, problems arise when applying the classification system. This article highlights the difficulties of applying the standard ESI classification to the Estonian shoreline and suggests a potential RESI classification scheme for Estonia that would divide cliff shores among sensitivity classes 1 and 5, with most of them into class 5, the designation for those that are the most difficult to clean up (mixed sediments on the beach and no access from the land). An Estonian RESI map layers are integrated into the SmartResponse Web - an analytical tool for emergency response and recovery that is used to combine the information related to the accident, development of an oil spill and information on environmental sensitivity of the Baltic Sea shoreline. The SmartResponse Web enables the identification and dynamic assessment of environmental risks as a continuous process for purposes of determining best practices for reducing or even eliminating the risks, and it is used by the Estonian oil spill response authorities for contingency planning, training and in emergency situation.

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