The Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) agreed to task its sub-committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) to look into the discharge from open-looped scrubbers, in particular the environmental impact of the washwater. This was decided at the meeting (MEPC 74) held last week.
During the meeting, several delegations expressed some fundamental concerns whether a scrubber system could constitute a more favourable treatment of ships equipped with a scrubber system (or Exhaust Gas Cleaning System), compared to ships using compliant fuel.
Today, the industry is faced with many new national or regional rules on the water discharges from scrubbers. These rules are increasingly restricting - or even prohibiting – ships from discharging scrubber washwater certain sea areas - such as ports, estuaries and coastal areas. Hence, as part of the work, PPR is tasked to evaluate and possibly harmonize the rules and guidance on the discharge of washwater from scrubbers.
Preliminary results from scientific studies modelling the accumulative effect of scrubber discharge in port shows very limited effect when compared to the EU water quality standards.
This is not an issue that will be decided soon, as finalization is expected in 2022.