BIMCO: China open loop scrubber discharge ban not yet total

JANUARY 8, 2019 — Regulators have updated part of China's domestic emission control area (DECA) regulations with effect from January 1, 2019, but, says BIMCO, they have not yet placed a full ban on discharges from open-loop scrubbers.

In recent days, there have been reports that the Ministry of Transport in Beijing has now banned open-loop scrubber discharges from the country's emission control areas (ECAs), which now cover most of China's territorial waters.

However, BIMCO has been told by sources familiar with the matter that, under the updated regulation, the banned areas for discharging wastewater from scrubbers remain within inland ECAs, port waters under coastal DECA and the Bohai Bay waters only.

Still, a full ban on open-loop scrubbers could be adopted soon, BIMCO was told.

In November, regulators said ships equipped with scrubbers were permitted to carry and use High Sulfur Fuel Oil (HSFO), subject to emissions monitoring, and that scrubber waste and water must be disposed according to relevant regulation. This remains the case.

In October, there was speculation that China was planning a ban on open loop scrubbers. Chinese officials confirmed to BIMCO at the time that there were no immediate plans to impose a ban on the technology, as long as they were in compliance with prevailing regulation.

The updated DECA regulation is designed to supplement the previous regulation, as well as to provide more detailed guidelines for implementation.

BIMCO is encouraging its members to pay attention to the following points from the new DECA regulation:

  • Ships that need to switch to low sulfur fuel must make a fuel switch plan and keep it onboard. The switch timing, ship's position, fuel sulfur content - before and after switching – as well as fuel tank data and consumption details must be properly recorded on the ship's Engine Log. BIMCO reads this as in line with IMO requirements for entering and leaving ECAs in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI.
  • The discharge and disposal of water pollutants generated by ships using exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) must meet the requirements of relevant regulations. It is prohibited to discharge wastewater generated by open-loop scrubbers within the inland emission control areas, port water areas of coastal emission control areas and Bohai Bay water areas.
  • A yet to be decided ban on wastewater generated by open-loop scrubbers within the whole of China's domestic emission control area will be announced in due course.
  • It is prohibited to discharge exhaust gas washwater residues into any current DECA water or burn them onboard.

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