NGOs Call for Ban of Scrubbers in European ECAs

ScrubberIllustration; Image Courtesy: Wartsila

A coalition of non-governmental organizations is pushing for a ban of exhaust gas cleaning systems in European emission control areas (ECAs).

A number of organizations, including Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), France Nature Environnement (FNE), BirdLife Malta and others, have called for a ban of heavy fuel oil and consequently a ban of scrubbers.

The NGOs also called for the designation of the Mediterranean Sea as a combined Emission Control Area for sulphur (SECA) and nitrogen (NECA) by 2020, cooperation of EU states with non EU coastal states to establish a Mediterranean ECA, and a harmonized and effective control and enforcement scheme.

Several environmental NGOs already called for national governments and EC to support the establishment of a Mediterranean ECA to protect people’s health, the environment, the climate and cultural heritage buildings.

“While it is certain that switching to low sulphur fuels results in a significant reduction of air pollutant emissions, scrubbers are questionable as they produce residues and prolong the use of toxic heavy fuel oil.

“Moreover, scrubbers and high sulphur fuels hinder the uptake of advanced exhaust after treatment like particle filters … Substantial reductions can also be archived by alternative fuels or regenerative propulsion.”

The global 0.5% sulphur cap for marine fuels will enter into force on January 1, 2020. The EU Sulphur Directive requires 0.1% fuel sulphur content while at berth in European ports. Stricter regulations on ship emissions are in force in the North Sea, Baltic Sea and the English Channel – these waters are entirely declared as ECAs with 0.1% fuel sulphur limit and required TIER III standard for new ships to reduce NOx emissions from 2021.

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