World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, an international conservation organization, has supported a ban on the use of open-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCSs) and discharge from hybrid scrubbers in Canadian waters.
“Canada has a responsibility to safeguard our oceans,” Andrew Dumbrille, senior specialist of sustainable shipping with WWF-Canada, pointed out.
“Washwater discharges from open-loop scrubbers pollute habitat and negatively affect wildlife, and an HFO spill would be devastating to coastal communities.”
As explained, transitioning away from heavy fuel oil to fuels that don’t require EGCSs will eliminate this threat and help set a course for zero-emission shipping by 2050.
The organization recently released a new study which found that 30 scrubber-equipped ships dumped nearly 35 million tons of washwater effluent off the British Columbian coast in 2017. Specifically, cruise ships were responsible for 90 percent of these discharges.
Open-loop scrubbers, which immediately dispose of washwater, were used by 50 percent of ships in the study. The others used hybrid systems, which allow ship operators to control when discharge is released by storing it temporarily.
The report stated that these scrubber discharges could grow by 35 percent in 2020 as more ships begin using scrubbers to comply with the new International Maritime Organization (IMO) sulphur rules. Cruise ships could account for two-thirds of this increase.
According to WWF-Canada, these harmful discharges put killer whales and other species at risk as nineteen percent of HFO carried by ships in BC passes through killer whale habitat.
“Southern resident killer whales in BC are under an enormous amount of stress, and it is concerning that washwater effluents may be further degrading their critical habitat,” Hussein Alidina, lead specialist of oceans with WWF-Canada, said.
“Pollution and contamination from all sources, including shipping, need to be reduced for long-term recovery of this population to be possible.”
Several coastal states and ports around the world have prohibited open-loop scrubber discharge, including California, China and, most recently, Malaysia.
Singapore and Fujairah announced plans to ban discharges starting in 2020.