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The European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) met on March 12th in Brussels to discuss the use of scrubbers in the perspective of the recent Sulphur Directive implementation. To speed up a break-through in the debate, EUROSHORE has offered to analyse scrubber discharge samples for providing advice on the best treatment technology.

The ESSF met the 12th of March in Brussels to discuss the use of scrubbers. EUROSHORE participated in this debate and discussed abatement technologies which are allowed under the current EC Sulphur Directive and under the IMO MARPOL Convention Annex VI.

High on the agenda was the problem of the general discharge ban with which a vast majority of European seaports are confronted. Ports are not allowed to discharge anything in the harbour water, including water and other residues emanating from scrubbers washing the sulphur and other pollutants out of exhaust gases.

Some member states have accepted the principle of automatic discharge of waste water from scrubbers, because of its limited impact on the sea. The majority of the member states haven’t taken a position yet or have expressed reservations. From a precautionary point of view, these member states want additional studies to verify the impact on the receiving water.

Chicken and egg-debate

The European Seaports Organisation (ESPO) stated that it’s difficult to allow the dumping of waste waters from scrubbers. On the basis of European legislation, waters are classified according to well defined quality standards (fishing water, swimming water, drinking water…). Most member states have elaborated a programme of reducing discharge of pollutants from industry, households and farming activities.

This point of view creates a chicken and egg-position. Manufacturers state that scrubbers are cleaning the exhaust gases of which pollutants are for the greater part falling into the sea. They claim these same pollutants are discharged via the scrubber water.

Should, however, the discharge of scrubber water be forbidden in some countries and accepted in others, manufacturers will have to adapt their installations in such a way that the scrubber waste can be stored on board, if needed, and can be discharged to a port reception facilities. As a result, ship owners,are confronted with a complex decision when purchasing scrubbers. They will have to opt for a type of scrubber that can store the waste water in a sludge tank,instead of one using the open loop system.

Analysing samples to move forward

EUROSHORE wants to act proactively in order to speed up a final decision in this debate. It therefore invites shipping lines to deliver a sample of their scrubber waste water. After analysis of the content, EUROSHORE members can advise the shipping line on the best available treatment technology. If the shipping line agrees, the lab results can be shared with other stakeholders involved in this debate.

For more information shipping lines can contact the Euroshore Secretariat: info@euroshore.com

About the European Sustainable Shipping Forum

The European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) provides a dialogue and cooperation platform for the Commission, EU Member States, EFTA countries, and relevant maritime industry stakeholders. Its task consists of assisting the Commission in implementing the Union's activities and programmes aimed at fostering sustainable maritime transport, including fuel efficiency. The forum intends to take the Sustainable Waterborne Transport Toolbox forward and thereby supports the implementation of the recent Sulphur Directive. As of January 1st 2015, this directive aims to reduce the sulphur in fuel for ships sailing in the EU Sulphur Emission Control Areas - Baltic and North Sea to 0.1%.