Thursday, May 2, 2019

Shipping Consortium Says Open Loop Scrubbers Are Acceptable to Many Ports

Exhaust Gas Cleaning Technology Still Requires Audited Disposal of Waste
Shipping News Feature
WORLDWIDE – In what many will consider a controversial release the Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA 2020), a consortium of 36 ocean carriers, many from the tanker sector, says it has received written approvals and no-objection letters from several Port Authorities around the world indicating they have no intention of banning the use of open-loop type scrubbers, exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) in their waters.

With the incoming mandatory Sulphur Cap regulations due to come into force in January 2020 scrubbers, which clean the exhaust gases to ensure emissions are within legal limits and can be retrofitted to large vessels, are for many a simple option to stay within the new legal requirements. These processes of course produce contaminated water waste which must be disposed of. Our article in February gave details of the operation thus:

”There are two types, open loop, which is likely to be objected to in many locations, as the water which cleans the emissions is discharged into the sea, rather defeating the required environmental objectives, and closed loop. These use a recycled body of water which continually recirculates and treats the emissions, but generates a large amount of toxic detritus which needs to be disposed of responsibly, and potentially expensively.”

This latest news from CSA2020 says members of the its Executive Committee presented to the ports scientific evidence concluding that the wastewater generated by the exhaust gas cleaning process was environmentally acceptable and well within regulatory limits. Following meetings between port officials and CSA 2020 Executive Committee members, the ports approached indicated that they do not intend to submit any papers to IMO pertaining to EGCS operation unless new, compelling research comes to light.

The CSA 2020 Executive Committee says it has received no-objection letters from more than 20 ports throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia. While the number of global ports with declared restrictions remains low, CSA 2020 claims those that have decided to ban scrubbers are beginning to have second thoughts. CSA 2020 Committee member William Nugent, Vice-President and Head of Ship Operations, International Seaways, observed:

“With a significant number of world ports having now assessed the evidence and decided not to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers, we encourage other Port Authorities to consider the independent research and analyses before making any decisions.”

In February, DNV GL (which also offers excellent advice on installing the technology) verified a three-year study, sponsored by CSA 2020, based on 281 wash water samples from 53 different EGCS-equipped cruise vessels, concluding that the samples were within the allowable IMO criteria, as well as within the limits of other major water standards.

A further study carried out by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) concluded that no short-term or long-term effects on marine organisms would be caused by the use of the technology, and additionally, cleaning heavy fuel oil gases with a scrubber is still better than running on 0.5% sulphur fuel alone. The Japanese Ministry went on to say avoiding the world-wide ban by ports on open loop technology which had been suggested would also contribute to the stabilisation of fuel oil demand and ensure a smooth transition to the new sulphur oxide emission regulations. FA 2020 Executive Committee member Christopher Fee, General Manager, Environment and Sustainability, Oldendorff Carriers, said:

“After research carried out by MILT, 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. 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.”

Other than mentioning the various countries, CSA 2020 has not so far been specific about which ports have said they are happy for open loop technology waste water to be discharged into their seas. Whatever system is used to reduce the pollutants, those responsible are required to keep audited, verifiable records of how they have been eliminated or disposed of.

Most scrubbers are designed to remove the pollutants that principally contribute to a wide range of serious health problems. EGCS not only remove the greater part of Sulphur Oxides (SOx) from the exhaust gases of ships’ engines and boilers, but also remove up to 94% of the Particulate Matter, up to 60% of the Black Carbon and a significant amount of the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. The significant factor with regard to scrubbers, as opposed to other solutions like cleaner burning fuel, is where do those toxins end up when they have been washed out?