China bans use of open-loop scrubbers in coastal waters

(BEIJING) — China’s maritime authority has banned the discharge of “wash water” used in ships to strip hazardous sulfur emissions from engine exhaust gases from Jan. 1, in an effort to curb pollution of its coastal seas, Reuters reported.

The ban on discharges from so-called open-loop scrubbers affects all rivers and ports along China’s coastline and includes the Bohai Sea, according to an official from the China’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA).

The measure mirrors a similar move made in Singapore ahead of International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that will ban ships from using marine fuels with a sulfur content of more than 0.5 percent from Jan. 1, 2020, unless they are equipped with exhaust scrubbers to clean up sulfur emissions.

“We adopted the ban in designated regions mainly out of consideration to protect the environment and prevent sulfur content pollution in more acidic waters,” said the official.

The ban, however, will not be extended to all of China’s territorial waters because of the increased costs for the shipping industry, said the official.

Open-loop scrubbers use seawater to capture sulfur from engine emissions before discharging this wash water back into the ocean after treatment. In closed-loop systems, scrubbing is performed using water treated with additives, recycling the liquid internally. Hybrid scrubbers are a combination of both.

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By Professional Mariner Staff