Open loop scrubbers spill at least 10 billion tonnes of polluted washwater into the sea every year. This is certified by the International Council on Clean Transportation.
According to the Council’s report, which sampled 3600 ships, 80% of dirty washwater is discharged within 200 nautical miles of the coast.
Pollution from scrubbers has increased exponentially since 2015, when shipowners began upgrading their ships to comply with new IMO rules that came into force in January 2020, requiring the use of clean fuels with less than 0.5% sulphur content.
At least 4300 ships have been equipped with flue gas cleaning systems. For the ICCT, bulk carriers and oil tankers are responsible for 70% of discharges, while 15% of the total washwater discharged into the sea comes from cruise ships.
This last figure is quite surprising, especially considering that only 4% of the current cruise fleet has scrubbers installed on board.
The ICCT also added that in seven of the top ten ports with the highest amount of scrubber washwater in the sea, cruise ships are responsible for 96% of the pollution from scrubbers. The most exposed port? Georgetown, in the Cayman Islands.
Translation by Giles Foster