China reported to ban scrubber wash water discharge

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

08 January 2019

It is being widely reported that China has banned the discharge of scrubber wash water in its coastal waters effectively outlawing the use of open-loop scrubbers.

The ban follows the reported publication of a notice last week with effect from the 1 January this year. The notice by China’s Maritime Safety Administration has been referred to in some reports by title but attempts by ShipInsight to locate a copy on the organisation’s website have proved negative. The only link to a document on the English language version of the website was to one entitled Implementation Scheme of the Domestic Emission Control Areas for Atmospheric Pollution from Vessels. The document is dated 30 November 2018 and while legislating a maximum fuel sulphur level of 0.5% in the Domestic Emission Control Areas and 0.1% in inland waters, it does allow for use of exhaust gas cleaning systems and says “In case where the exhaust gas cleaning system is used, the discharge monitoring and control system should be installed and any wastes and discharges should be treated according to the applicable regulations”.

If the ban proves to be official it will be a reversal of the position announced by China in September last year. The decision by Singapore to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers may have been a factor in the reported Chinese ban on the technology. This would be a blow to many shipowners and would necessitate switching to compliant fuel when entering territories where bans are in force.

ShipInsight will continue to monitor the website for changes to the situation and report accordingly.

Meanwhile, Norway has confirmed that its ban on use of scrubbers in the country’s heritage fjords has been delayed and is now planned to take effect at the end of February 2019 at the earliest. The delay has been necessary as the consultation period has been deemed too short under EU regulations.

Norway’s ban on scrubber use in the heritage fjords extends to all types of scrubber including closed-loop and hybrid systems. Norway is also proposing a prohibition against incineration of waste on board ships in the world heritage fjords.