Sediment unease over scrubbers

seawater The BPA want the UK government to assess the risk to sediment quality in ports and enclosed waterways from open loop scrubbers. Credit: Pixabay

A new industry working group on open loop scrubbers has found that impact on sediment quality is the main concern for UK ports and enclosed waterways.

The meeting, organised by the British Ports Association (BPA) and UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG), highlighted that ports are concerned about the impact of open loop scrubbers on sediment quality in their waters and believe this should be a bigger part of usage discussions. Attendees noted that contaminated sediment could increase dredging costs, complicate the process of obtaining a disposal license and pose an administrative burden in future. The BPA said it will take its findings to the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) for consultation.

"There is some concern that short-term commercial factors could affect how the industry responds to the use of OL scrubbers, so we would like Government to look at the risk to sediment quality in ports and enclosed waterways from OL scrubbers and will be approaching them about this," said Mark Simmonds, head of policy & external affairs at the BPA.

"We are keen to continue to discuss these concerns with the shipping industry as well as the UK Government, said Mr Simmonds, adding that while the BPA has not declared itself for or against open loop scrubbers, it has not been provided with “any evidence to dispel” concerns about contaminant buildup.

CSA approvals

The working group convened after the Clean Shipping Alliance (CSA) 2020 this month said it received written approvals and no-objection letters regarding open loop scrubbers from at least 20 port authorities and is in the process of seeking permission from the port authorities that have sent written approvals and no-objection letters to publicly name them.

GreenPort is not aware of any ports in the UK that have announced a ban on open loop scrubbers, however, it understands that bans and/or restrictions may be in place for some ports.

Globally, ports including Singapore, China and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates have banned the use of open loop scrubbers.

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