China has banned open-loop scrubbers from the country’s emission control areas (ECAs). The new regulation, which came into force on January 1, bans vessels from discharging wastewater and burning residue from open-loop scrubbers.
In addition, ships must record the details of wastewater and residue disposal.
The first rumours about China banning open loop scrubbers started last year. Specifically, speaking during a lunch that the Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) organised, Dr. Xie Xie, director of the Waterborne Transportation Research Institute at the Chinese Ministry of Transport, said that he is not sure if China will allow open-loop scrubbers as a compliance measure in its ECAs and coastal waters.
However, China officials denied these speculations that the country could ban open loop scrubbers. They explained that as long as the scrubbers comply with prevailing regulation, such a ban will not happen.
Moreover, as of 1 October 2018, ships operating in China’s Yangtze River Delta domestic ECA can no longer use fuel with a sulphur content exceeding 0.5%, unless an approved exhaust gas cleaning system is installed, the Gard P&I Club said citing information by Chinese regional authorities of Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces.
Ports are currently analyzing scrubbers’ impact on the environment. As of now, Belgium only allows scrubbers discharge in coastal and open seawaters at least 3nm off coast, while Flemish regional law also confirms that discharge is not allowed in ports or inland waters.
In Germany, EGCS discharge is not allowed in inland waterways, canals and ports within inland waterways, while discharge is not allowed at all in Dublin. In Latvia, the European Commission states that the EGCS discharge is allowed however, national authorities believe that open-loop scrubber discharge should be prohibited. Additionally, ABS reports that the discharge is prohibited in port waters, while other sources advise that discharges are allowed but they could be prohibited.
As for the US, EGCS discharge is not allowed in California and Connecticut, but it is allowed under conditions in Hawaii. UAE allows EGCS discharge under conditions at Abu Dhabi, with Singapore banning it. Regarding China, international sources report that it is possible to ban open-loop scrubbers along its rivers.