Scrubbing system users vs. European Commission proposals

Recently the European Commission has proposed stricter discharge measures for users of open-loop scrubbing systems to coordinate regulations controlling the sulfur abatement technology. The problem will be discussed at the 74th meeting of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in May.

Now it should be noted that in spite of the fact that wet scrubbers are an agreeable resolution for sulfur compliance, members of the European Commission consider that open-loop scrubbing systems produce harmful liquid effluents that force states to take restriction/prohibition measures with the aim of saving the marine environment.

The Commission proposal asks to identify the areas and conditions under which it will be permitted for open-loop wet scrubbers to discharge washwater into ports and seas. In addition, these measures could cause the emerging of stricter discharge measures or the discharge prohibition from a certain technology but are not limited to.

Nevertheless, the Clean Shipping Alliance, a group of shipowners that have installed scrubbing systems, are against the proposal. The executive director of the Alliance confirms that the current situation is the only attempt to facilitate restrictions on wet scrubbers that are accepted worldwide by the IMO, EU, and others as an acceptable way of air pollution control and improvement of air quality.

Moreover, wet air scrubbers have numerous benefits for the shipping industry among other types of scrubbers that include:

  • small space requirements that are particularly important for the installation of the scrubbers on a ship due to space limitations;
  • no secondary dust sources during air scrubbing because there is no way to escape the scrubber for the collected compounds;
  • lack of temperature or humidity limitations;
  • minimal fire and explosion risk factors;
  • collection of both particulate matter and gases.

The thing is that these shipowners have been investing for years to prepare their ships to reduce emissions in accordance with existing International Maritime Organization and European Union’s rules. Also, it should be mentioned that in spite of the EU proposals, all member states of the IMO again approved scrubbing system technology as an accepted compliance method.

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