Carnival releases scientific study of scrubber wash-water quality

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Carnival Corporation has fitted scrubbers on over 70 ships across its brands

As an increasing number of jurisdictions put restrictions on discharges from exhaust gas scrubbers, Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) has released the results of an independent, two-year scientific scrubber wash-water study.

The cruise giant says that it shows that its Advanced Air Quality Systems, as it calls its proprietary technology scrubbers, are a safe and effective means for compliance with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2020 requirements, which include regulations for cleaner air emissions and strict wash-water quality standards.

The study also concluded that the wash-water samples from Carnival’s exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) were below the limits set by several major national and international water quality and land-based water discharge standards to provide further proof of the quality and safety of the wash water, even when compared to criteria like drinking water.

The two-year study included 281 wash-water samples from 53 Carnival Corporation ships equipped with the systems, creating the largest wash-water data set in the marine industry.

The samples were analyzed for 54 parameters by independent laboratories accredited by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), using standardized EPA methods. Following the lab phase, DNV GL reviewed the laboratory test data, comparing the results to major point source discharge limits and water quality standards.

In February, the independent study results were presented publicly at a technical conference for Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA 2020), a group of leading companies from the commercial shipping and cruise industries committed to complying with 2020 fuel requirements through the development and use of exhaust gas cleaning systems.

Specific to IMO wash-water requirements, the study confirmed results from previous studies showing the quality of the water used in the Advanced Air Quality Systems process was always far below the IMO monitoring limits for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and the annual limits for nitrates. In fact, when measured against IMO standards, the average wash-water test results in this study were over 90 percent lower than maximum allowable levels. In many cases, the materials were completely undetectable in the laboratory testing process.

Additionally, the report compared the samples to selected national and international water quality benchmark standards, including the German Waste Water Ordinance, the EU Industrial Emissions and the Surface Water Standards of the EU’s Water Framework Directive. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) drinking water guidelines were also evaluated. The Advanced Air Quality Systems test results compared favorably with all of these major benchmark standards, demonstrating that the composition of the water was not only consistently below, but in most cases, significantly below the most stringent limits.

“We are pleased to see the positive results of this multi-year study, which included in-depth analysis and review from respected independent experts, demonstrating the overall quality of our Advanced Air Quality Systems wash water and further confirming the IMO’s acceptance of these systems for 2020 regulatory compliance,” said Mike Kaczmarek, senior vice president for marine technology for Carnival Corporation. “Based on extensive emissions testing, we know that our Advanced Air Quality Systems in some ways outperform marine gasoil (MGO) in providing cleaner air emissions. And although we have known for a long time that the quality of water being returned to the sea is at a high level, based on our years of development of this data set, it was important to release the findings publicly as the latest scientific evidence showing the actual water quality. This is completely consistent with the commitments we have made to our sustainability goals, and to protecting the ocean environment and the destinations we visit around the world.”

Kaczmarek added: “Comparing scrubber wash water to both existing IMO requirements and also various other major water standards is useful to provide an informed perspective and to illustrate wash-water quality in a way that is easy to understand. These comparisons also provide relatable criteria for a number of specific parameters for Advanced Air Quality Systems, such as PAH concentrations, that are included within these standards.”

Carnival Corporation has installed Advanced Air Quality Systems on over 70 ships in its fleet, and combined with the industry-leading adoption of liquefied natural gas (LNG), shorepower and other sustainability initiatives, the company remains committed to leading the marine industry in meeting and exceeding all established standards for performance and environmental protections.

Kaczmarek concluded: “We are committed to consistently exceeding the expectations of our guests for great vacations, and at the same time, we are committed to operating responsibly, as our very existence is tied to protecting the oceans, local waters and communities in which we operate. With more than 120,000 employees, most of whom live and work at sea, our commitment to protecting and maintaining healthy oceans, seas and local communities is not just an operating necessity. For us, it is simply the right thing to do, and we take great pride in our commitment to environmental leadership.”

Access the study HERE

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