Denmark will ban scrubber water discharges

Written by Nick Blenkey
Minister talks scrubber water discharge ban

Danish Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke: “This agreement is another important step on the way to a better marine environment.”

The Danish Ministry of the Environment said today that, from July 1, 2025, the discharge of exhaust gas scrubber water from ships will be prohibited in waters up to 22 kilometers (about 12 nautical miles) off the Danish coast. The ban has widespread Danish parliamentary support from across the political spectrum and will be implemented in an amendment to current legislation set to be enacted in the coming parliamentary year.

The ministry notes that currently ships can use open loop scrubbers to remove sulfur from HFO exhaust emissions and then discharge the water used in the process directly to sea. This has contributed to excessive levels of a number of heavy metals and tar substances, making scrubber water is a significant source of environmentally hazardous substances in the marine environment. With the ban in place, the discharge of nickel into the marine environment can be lowered by up to 20% and the discharge of anthracene by 7%.

“This agreement is another important step on the way to a better marine environment,” said Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke. “Scrubber water discharges a number of problematic substances which accumulate on our seabed and are absorbed into the ocean’s food chains and end up in the fish we eat. The discharge of environmentally hazardous substances comes from many different sources, but scrubber water is a source about which we have a lot of knowledge and data, and therefore I am happy that we are now putting an end to the pollution with scrubber water in Danish territorial waters.”


The sea area out to 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles) corresponds to the sea area that can be regulated nationally under the Convention on the Law of the Sea. The sea area outside the 22 kilometers is regulated according to international rules. Denmark will work for a similar ban in the Baltic Sea and North Sea through the regional sea conventions HELCOM and OSPAR with a view to regulation under the auspices of the IMO.

With the agreement, ships must in future switch to using either low-sulfur fuel or closed scrubbers with zero emissions. This means that the residual product from the closed scrubber must be delivered to port reception facilities.

While the ban comes into force on July 1, 2025 for ships with open scrubbers, the deadline for ships with closed loop scrubbers is

  • Read the Danish text of the agreement HERE
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