In Norway the Ministry of Environment is responsible for all regulations relating to both health and environmental effects of chemicals where no separate regulatory measures have been laid down. Medicines, cosmetics, plant protection products and chemicals for occupational use are some types of uses or products that are separately regulated.
“The pollution control act” is one of acts that the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) administrates and enforces. The Pollution Control Act states that pollution is forbidden, unless it is specifically permitted by law, regulations or individual permits or licenses. It further states that it is not allowed to possess, do, or initiate anything that may entail a risk of pollution, unless this is specifically permitted by law. Almost all pollution activity in Norway is therefore based on individual permits or licences issued by SFT or the county environmental agencies. Whether a permit is granted or not, depends on the professional judgement of the pollution control authorities. The licenses contain specific requirements regarding discharges into the sea, emissions to air, handling of waste, and emergency preparedness.
SFT and the offices of the county governors target imports and sales of products and chemicals, production activities, measures to prevent the spread of pollution from polluted soil and sediments, and various types of waste management (for more information see www.sft.no).
For environmental issues regarding offshore oil and gas activities in Norwegian waters see chapter Issues of importance for ecosystem based management - Oil and gas activities.
In Norway, the nuclear emergency preparedness organisation was established to make expertise available to handle nuclear incidents and to ensure the rapid implementation of measures to protect life, health, the environment and other important public interests. Nuclear incidents include both accidents and incidents resulting from intentional actions during peacetime and during political security crises/war. The organisation comprises the Crisis Committee for Nuclear Preparedness, in which several ministries and directorates are represented. The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) is the head of and the Secretariat for the Crisis Committee, the competent national authority in the area of radiation protection and nuclear safety, the national and international point of contact and the prime mover and organizer of preparedness (NRPA, 2006d).
The NRPA administers two acts and one Royal Decree along with associated regulations:
- Act and regulations on Radiation Protection and Use of Radiation, No. 36 of May 2000
- Act on Nuclear Energy Activities, No. 28 of May 1972
- Royal Decree of 17 February 2006 ‘Nuclear Preparedness – National and Regional Organisation’
Goals and targets
On a national level there are a number of important strategic objectives of the Norwegian policy regarding hazardous chemicals and radioactive substances that are related to pollution. For more information see electronic appendix on www.barentsportal.com.
Related to each of the strategic goals there is a set of national targets. “The Integrated Management of the Marine Environment of the Barents Sea and the Sea Areas off the Lofoten Islands (Report No. 8 to the Storting (2005-2006)) sets ambitious goals for the management of the area.
The Management plan sets the following objective to prevent and combat pollution in the Barents Sea- Lofoten area:
- Releases and inputs of pollutants to the Barents Sea – Lofoten area will not result in injury to health or damage to the productivity of the natural environment and its capacity for self-renewal. Activities in the area will not result in higher levels of pollutants
The following target has been set for limiting inputs and concentrations of hazardous and radioactive substances in the Barents Sea- Lofoten area:
- By the year 2020 concentrations of hazardous and radioactive substances in the marine environment will not exceed the background levels for naturally occurring substances and will be close to zero for artificial substances (OSPAR convention). Releases and inputs of hazardous or radioactive substances from activity in the area will not cause these levels to be exceeded.