Thursday, January 2, 2020

Different Line Taken on Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Fitted to Merchant Vessels

Ship Operators Need to Heed Local Scrubber Restrictions
Shipping News Feature

BAHRAIN – EGYPT – Two more Middle Eastern regions have spoken up on the use of open loop scrubbers to clean the exhaust emissions of vessels in transit. Whilst the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has said there will be no conditions or restrictions put on fuel oil or open-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems for vessels entering or transiting, the Bahraini authorities have taken a very different line.

Unlike the Panama Canal which has banned the use of open loop scrubbers completely it seems Suez has no such concerns with regard to the discharge of the effluent from cleaning the exhaust gases of ships in transit. The Panama restrictions were put in place to preserve the quality of the fresh water areas within the Canal zone.

The Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications in Bahrain meanwhile has made no bones about the use of the equipment whilst within the country’s territorial waters. Whilst the use of open loop exhaust gas cleaning systems is technically permitted, all foreign flagged ships, and any native ones over 150 gross tonnes, must use scrubbers carrying a Compliance Certificate issued by the relevant authorities.

Whichever of the two exhaust gas cleaning systems approved by the IMO are used (A - in which the initial certification is followed by periodic survey, continuous monitoring and daily emission checks, or B - Continuous monitoring using an approved system, periodic surveys and daily checks of key system parameters) the water for discharge must be carefully monitored and recorded. Open loop systems are forbidden to discharge the waste water when the vessel is within the Port of Bahrain or the approved anchorage area.

Furthermore these discharges from open loop systems into any Bahraini territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are actively discouraged and not permitted unless it can be proven that the discharge of washwater complies with the IMO 2015 guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (MEPC.259(68)) and there is no negative impact on marine ecosystems.

To ensure this is the case the ship’s master must first obtain a permit from Marine Safety & Environment Protection Directorate (MSEPD) at PMA before undertaking any discharge of washwater within the waters of the Kingdom of Bahrain. This information includes showing vessel name. IMO number, port and date of arrival, EGCS scheme A or B approved, model details of scrubbing equipment, previous test results on washwater etc.

In an ever more regulated environment ships masters will need to keep such records for at least two years with a minimum of annual testing and ensure all residues are delivered to suitable onshore facilities, again with all records kept.The IMO has published a useful instruction sheet in the case of the failure of a system.

As we have seen many times the lack of record keeping, or the attempt to bypass waste regulations, can lead to catastrophically high penalties when prosecution results.

Photo: Courtesy of DNV.