Environmental risk analysis for accidental emissions: A Finnish approach

Nina Wessberg, Riitta Molarius, Jyri Seppälä, Sirkka Koskela, Jaana Pennanen

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientific


    Environmental legislation and voluntary improvement activities in the enterprises have led to a situation where normal, continuous emissions from processes are today well controlled in industrial operations. A challenge is, however, how to manage the accidental emissions, which may occur in abnormal or unexpected situations. These undesired events can inhibit the positive development of environmental protection measures. Accidental emissions may have ecological, health and societal effects as well as in fluence on the corporate management and on industrial production. For these reasons, it is desirable for companies as well as the whole society to prevent accidental emissions beforehand. One manner for improving the prevention is to carry out an environmental risk analysis in which the possibilities of accidental emission events are identified and analysed from a point of view of different consequences. In Finland, environmental risk analysis for accidental emissions, are made since 1980's. The content of environmental risk analyses is still unclear, though the prevention of environmental risks is recognised as a significant part of corporate environmental management, and it is demanded in legislation and in the construction and maintenance of voluntary environmental management systems. Partly this is due to the variability of terminology concerning risk assessment and analysis. There are definitions of ecological and health risk assessment, as well as standards for risk assessment and risk analysis. In addition, there exist no clear definitions or guidelines for the environmental risk analysis. Even the definition f accidental emission is missing. It was against this background when the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, Safety Technology Authority, the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) started up a project called YMPÄRI. The purpose of the project was to create a guideline for conducting environmental risk analysis and clarify risk terminology and risk acceptability in terms of the management of accidental emissions. A special focus was also put on the methods to assess ecological risks. The project was ongoing during 2004 till the end of 2005. A co-operation between different institutes, as well as interviews and workshops, offered a forum for different interests, opinions and experiences to come together in the YMPÄRI project. Authorities, consultants, certification bodies and companies could influence the process. The guideline was made based on this interactive process. The YMPÄRI guideline shows what environmental risk analysis should include and how the process of risk analysis should go. The model is strongly based on industrial safety's risk analysis techniques and traditions. Consequence matrix and risk matrix show also line to the decision making of risk tolerability and acceptance. In this paper, the process of developing YMPÄRI guideline, as well as the content of this guideline, is described.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the Loss Prevention 2007
    Place of PublicationRugby, UK
    Publication statusPublished - 2007
    MoE publication typeB3 Non-refereed article in conference proceedings
    Event12th International Symposium on Loss Prevention and Safety Promotion in the Process Industries: Loss Prevention 2007 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Duration: 22 May 200724 May 2007


    Conference12th International Symposium on Loss Prevention and Safety Promotion in the Process Industries
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • environmental impact
    • risk assessment
    • accidental emissions
    • industry


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