The sixth meeting of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 6) has concluded that further studies of the impact from discharge of washwater from open loop scrubbers are needed and has invited member states and international organisations to submit further information.
As a result of the meeting, which ended on February 22 and in which BIMCO participated, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will, if funding is established, facilitate a review of the existing scientific literature and a study on the environmental impacts from the discharge.
The IMO has also decided to extend the completion year for the review of the 2015 Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) Guidelines to 2020.
One of the main reasons for this delay is the resent increase in public awareness of whether there are possible unintended consequences to the marine aquatic environment due to discharge of washwater from ships equipped with open loop scrubbers.
Contradictive study results
A study prepared by Germany shows that open loop scrubbers may have a negative impact on the marine environment. A presentation made by Japan on the other hand, has showed that the discharge of washwater would not cause unacceptable effects either on the marine organisms or the quality of the water in the sea.
According to the Japanese study, the sulphur oxides (SOx), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) and heavy metals are diluted to an extent where it cannot cause unacceptable effects, as long as the systems meet the discharge criteria of the 2015 EGCS Guidelines.
In addition, Carnival Corporation, with assistance from DNV GL, has conducted a study that compares the quality of washwater from samples taken with the standards established in the German regulations for wastewater, the EU Water Framework Directive, WHO drinking water standards and the discharge criteria in the 2015 EGCS Guidelines. The study indicates that washwater discharged from ships equipped with open loop scrubbers is safe for the ocean environment.
“The deliberations of the IMO could end up in a change of regulation. Should this happen, BIMCO will work to ensure that early movers who have prepared for the 2020 global sulphur limit by installing open loop scrubbers in good faith, will not be penalized,” says Christian Bækmark Schiolborg, Manager, Marine Technology and Regulation at BIMCO.