Nord Stream mine clearance operation delayed in Gulf of Finland
Rahvusvahelised uudised 20 Nov 2009  EWR
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A total of 36 sea mines will be blown up in Finnish economic zone to make way for gas pipeline; Russia to destroy its own mines in territorial waters
Helsingin Sanomat

In the Finnish economic zone in the Gulf of Finland, 14 old sea mines will be detonated in November-December this year to make way for the planned Nord Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany.

In the first instance the mine clearing vessel will operate just south of Helsinki. After that it will move to a position south of Hanko.

The total number of mines to be blasted in the Finnish economic zone is 36.

The remaining mines will be detonated in April-May of next year. At that time the mine clearing crew will operate in the middle of a busy shipping lane south of Porkkala.

Before a detonation an exclusion area with a radius of two kilometres will be set up around the location of the blasting.

The ships operating in the area will be informed of the safety measures four hours in advance.

The first mine was scheduled for detonation already on Thursday, but the measure was postponed.

The British BACTEC company’s vessel John Lethbridge, which is responsible for the blastings, has anchored near the location of the mine in international waters around 30 kilometres south of Helsinki.

The mines discovered on the route of the pipeline are at a depth of 40 to 80 metres. The wartime devices include Russian and German mines and one Finnish S-40 mine.

The most powerful of the mines found are the German-made EMF mine and three EMC mines. An EMC mine contains 300 kilograms of explosives. Each mine has seven horns, the touching of which detonates the device. In the so-called Continuation War Finland also used German-made mines.

In the Russian waters the devices on the route of the pipeline will be detonated by the Russian Navy. Because the Suursaari clearing area is in the vicinity of Finnish territorial waters, the gas pipeline company Nord Stream plans to monitor the spreading of sediments onto the Finnish side.

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