In the absence of international regulations on the use of open-loop scrubbers, individual ports are taking matters into their own hands and imposing local bans. But manufacturers say these decisions have been taken too hastily and could lead to more problems than they solve…
With a growing number of port authorities moving to impose bans on open-loop scrubber wash water discharges, the European Commission has called for urgent international action to introduce harmonised rules on their use.
And a leading P&I club has urged owners of ships using open-loop scrubbers to reduce the risk of seafarers being criminalised by ensuring that crew are informed of local discharge regulations before ships visit ports with bans or restrictions.
The Gard Club said it was aware of existing or proposed discharge regulations in ports in Singapore, China, India, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. 'Various other coastal states and ports are discussing enforcing similar bans citing the adverse effects of scrubber washwater on the marine environment,' it warned. 'It is therefore likely that the list of states/ports which currently regulate open-loop scrubber discharges in their waters will grow over time.'
The European Commission has tabled a paper at the International Maritime Organisation calling for harmonised rules to be set down to prevent major disruption to the shipping industry. 'The sooner uniform and unambiguous regulatory measures are developed and adopted, the better the potential pollution will be controlled and the less signiﬁcant the economic impacts will be both on industry and administrations,' it warns.
The Commission paper – due to be discussed at the IMO's marine environment protection committee meeting in May – notes a number of recent scientiﬁc studies which have highlighted the potential environmental damage that open-loop scrubber efﬂuent may cause.
The sooner uniform and unambiguous regulatory measures are developed and adopted, the better the potential pollution will be controlled and the less signiﬁcant the economic impacts will be both on industry and administrations