Illustration: © MaKars /

Ship scrubbers could render UK ports unusable

According to The Independent, the global shipping industry has spent more than USD 12bn on installing scrubbers on more than 3,700 ships worldwide to comply with new environmental legislation that ends up polluting the sea instead of the air. But only 65 of these vessels have had closed-loop scrubbers installed, a technology that stores the extracted sulphur in tanks before discharging it at a safe disposal facility in a port.

The others are able to discharge the waste products, which are acidic and often contain carcinogens, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals, into the sea.
“We are worried that contaminated sediments will build up in berths and navigation channels over the long term. Contamination makes it very difficult for ports to get permission to dispose of the sediment and it can raise the cost of dredging by about 10 times,” said Mark Simmonds, at the British Ports Association
IMO guidelines for scrubber discharge, which are under review, are set out in terms of the concentrations that are emitted, rather than the absolute quantity of pollutants that are discharged.
The British Ports Association says that it is yet to see convincing studies that address its concerns about the impact of scrubber discharge on sediments over a time period of five or 10 years.

Source: The Independent, 28 October 2019.

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