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EGCSA SLAMS SINGAPORE DECISION ON SCRUBBERS

Thursday, December 6, 2018 

The Exhaust Gas Cleaning System Association (EGCSA) has slammed the decision by the Maritime and Port Association of Singapore to ban the discharge washwaters from open-loop marine scrubbers, calling for flag state administrations to base any future decision relating to scrubbers on scientific fact rather than conjecture.

In a statement issued this week, the scrubber manufacturers’ trade association said: “The recent announcement by the outgoing CEO of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) banning the discharge of process water from open loop scrubbers for vessels visiting Singapore came without prior notice or discussion with the IMO despite the fact that the Singapore MPA is a signatory to MARPOL Annex VI.

“The MPA provided neither scientific evidence for its decision nor was the industry invited to consultation. If there had been discussion, the Singapore MPA might have realised the high risks to human health resulting from the high toxicity of low sulphur fuels and more toxic distillates if no exhaust gas cleaning systems are used. The many dumbbell low sulphur fuels (0.50%S fuel oils) are also expected to have less complete combustion as the fuel boiling point distribution and that this will also contribute to higher particulate matter discharge and poorer air quality in Singapore.

“As the pronouncement by the Singapore MPA is likely to have a significant effect on crude carriers operating inert gas plant discharging into Singapore refineries and storage facilities as well as all other vessels visiting Singaporean waters, it is disappointing that the Singapore MPA has been less than open about its plans and has not, as far as we can tell, based its decision on proven scientific findings.

“We would urge the IMO, national governments, port and harbour authorities to base any future decisions relating to the use of marine scrubbers, whether they use open or closed loop systems, on evidence and fact.”

The EGCSA noted that that ships operating an inert gas plant have discharged process water from open loop scrubbers in the port area for over 50 years. Yet, no studies have been published that indicate measurable harm to the marine environment.

The organisation also claims that the operation of open loop scrubbers at numerous facilities on land, such as power stations, have not shown to be detrimental to waterways or the environment.

Referencing a number of power stations that have adopted flue gas desulphurisation (FGD) systems and which have been recognised and approved by several environmental agencies around the world, the EGCSA said that Port authorities should consider that the ban of open loop marine scrubber operations is likely to promote the use of low sulphur fuel oils using 0.10%S distillate which have been shown to have a significantly higher toxic impact than heavy sulphur fuel oils (HSFO).

“There is evidence from the refining industry and the IMO Secretary General’s Expert Group on sulphur to show that scrubbers emit 3%-5% less CO2 than low sulphur fuels over their lifecycle. A study by the University of Rostock furthermore identifies the exhaust emissions from low sulphur diesel fuels as posing a greater risk to human health than marine exhaust gas scrubbers, sated the EGCSA.

“It is also apparent that in order to address black carbon and other harmful ultrafine particles, the use of exhaust gas after-treatment is going to have to become ubiquitous as long as liquid fossil fuels are the main stay of a ship’s energy. Investing in these technology developments will certainly be hampered by administrations if they act as unreliable stakeholders.

“As the Singapore MPA’s announcement focused on open loop scrubbers, one conclusion that may be drawn is that there is a significant difference between the discharge from an open loop EGCS to the discharge from an EGCS operating in closed loop mode. What is not clear or published by the MPA is their assessment of the differences and consequent measured or predicted environmental impact.”

The association says any evaluation must be based on scientific evidence and should avoid politically motivated headlines that offer little measurable societal benefit.

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