EU wants urgent clarity on scrubbers

The EU demands clear guidelines on the discharge of washwater from scrubbers, amid fears that the by-product could cause irreparable environmental damage. In order to comply with the sulphur regulations, several shipowners have installed exhaust gas cleaning (EGC) technology known as scrubbers on their vessels. Having a scrubber that reduces the emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) allows a ship to continue to run on cheaper high-sulphur heavy fuel oil.

In a document issued by the EU Council to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), EU countries stress the need for clear regulations on where and how ships can discharge washwater from scrubbers. Critics of scrubbers have pointed out in particular that open-loop scrubbers have created a new environmental problem while striving to solve another. A study from the German environmental agency recently showed that the washwater discharge from scrubbers is a direct source of pollution.

Several countries have already either banned or flagged an upcoming ban against open-loop scrubbers where water discharge is released into ports, including major bunker ports in Singapore and Fujairah.

The EU shares concerns that scrubbers could end up polluting the sea and impacting marine flora and fauna. “The potential toxicity of EGCS water discharges, due to the very nature of the pollutant substances present in the exhaust gases, and the increase in the number of these systems require careful consideration to avoid irreversible pollution of the marine environment,” states the document.

Source: ShippingWatch, 8 February 2019



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