Japan to rule out scrubber ban

Singapore harbor. Credit: Getty Images

Several port authorities from around the world 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 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, said, “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.”

Over 20 ports from around the globe have sent no-objection letters to the CSA 2020 Executive Committee. While few worldwide ports have restriction guidelines, the ones that have decided to ban scrubbers outright, are beginning to have second thoughts.

“It appears that some ports are revoking their earlier 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 wash water 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 Ministry of Land Transport and Tourism has also carried out a study which concluded that no short- or long-term effects on marine organisms can be caused by the use of the EGCS.

The majority of scrubbers are designed to remove the pollutants that contribute most to a wide range of serious health problems. EGCS remove not only the larger part of sulphur dioxides from the exhaust gases of ships’ boilers and engines, but also remove up to 94% of particulate matter, up to 60% of black carbon and a substantial amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.