Specifically, the IMarEST Explainer: The unanswered questions surrounding scrubber washwater discharge, focuses on the potential impact of washwater discharges from open-loop scrubbers on the marine environment and considers to what extent these concerns are grounded in science.

The discussions around shipping emissions increased after the new regulations introduced by the IMO in January 2020 in a bid to reduce sulphur emissions from the marine sector by over 80%.

These regulations (known as IMO2020) mandate that the prior maximum fuel oil sulphur limit of 3.50% m/m (mass by mass) will fall to 0.50% m/m. This is the largest reduction in the sulphur content of a transportation fuel undertaken at one time.

In order for the shipping industry to comply, ships must consider one of three currently available options:

  • use of low-sulphur fuel oil
  • the installation of an exhaust gas cleaning system (ECGS or “scrubber”)
  • use of other fuels that have low or zero sulphur content such as LNG.

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The unanswered questions surrounding scrubber washwater discharge