International environment NGOs are calling into question the use of scrubbers as alternative compliance to IMO2020 regulations. Lee Kok Leong, executive editor, Maritime Fairtrade, reports

Several international environmental organizations, including Friends of the Earth International, World Wildlife Fund and Pacific Environment, have submitted a paper to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Pollution Prevention & Response sub-committee, calling into question the use of scrubbers as alternative compliance mechanisms for the new 2020 fuel sulphur regulations.  Stand.earth is a supporting organization of the paper.

The paper, titled “Refining the title and scope of a new output on the discharge of liquid effluents from EGCS”, calls for consideration of the impacts of scrubber effluent on areas of cultural and ecological sensitivity among other important factors. 

The committee is having a meeting this week, which runs from Monday 17 until Friday 21 February.  Among the notable agenda items during PPR7 is a review of the 2015 Guidelines for Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS), or scrubbers, and an evaluation and harmonization of rules and guidance on the discharge of liquid effluents from scrubbers into water.

Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at Stand.earth, said: “This week’s negotiations on the use of scrubbers is timely and urgent, as increasing numbers of ships are installing these systems so they can circumvent the IMO’s 2020 fuel sulfur standards while continuing to burn heavy fuel oil. The cumulative impacts on the marine environment of increasing volumes of scrubber waste being discharged into our seas was not adequately considered prior to allowing their use. to. The vast majority of these scrubbers are open-loop systems, which effectively turn air pollution into water pollution. 

“Increasing numbers of ports and countries are banning the discharge of scrubber wastewater due to water pollution concerns. Installing scrubbers also does nothing to address the spill risk associated with the use of heavy fuel oil and provides inferior reductions to black carbon over simply switching to cleaner fuel sources.” 

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