Ports rule out scrubber ban

Singapore harbour will ban open loop scrubbers from 2020 on. Credit: Getty Images

More than 20 port authorities, including from Japan, South Africa, Greater Wellington in New Zealand, Victoria and South Australia in Australia, and the United Arab Emirates, have sent no-objection letters and approvals regarding the use of open-loop scrubbers in their waters to the Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA 2020), indicating they have no intention of banning them.

Following numerous meetings between port officials and CSA 2020 Executive Committee members, the port officials approached said they do not intend to submit papers to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regarding scrubber operation unless new and compelling research is brought about.

Executive committee members of the CSA 2020 presented scientific evidence to the ports, concluding that the wastewater generated by the exhaust gas cleaning process was well-within regulatory limits and satisfactory from an environmental aspect.

General manager of Environment and Sustainability Oldendorff Carriers and CSA Executive Committee member Christopher Fee says, “After research carried out by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), Japan has now stated it will not ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters and we hope to have more written confirmations in place soon.”
While few worldwide ports have restriction guidelines, the ones that have decided to ban scrubbers outright, are beginning to have second thoughts, claims the CSA. “It appears that some ports are revoking their decisions to restrict open-loop scrubber use now that more academic studies have been made publicly available,” commented Fee.

Classification society DNV GL has verified a three-year study based on 281 washwater sampled from 53 vessel equipped with different exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS).

The study concluded that the samples were well-within the allowable IMO criteria, as well as within the limits of other water standards. Japan’s MLIT has also carried out a study, which concluded that EGCS will not cause any short- or long-term effects on marine organisms. The majority of scrubbers are designed to remove the pollutants that contribute to a wide range of serious health problems.

EGCS removes not only sulphur dioxide from the exhaust gases of ships’ boilers and engines, but also eliminate up to 94% of particulate matter, up to 60% of black carbon, and a substantial amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.