Singapore Classifies Scrubber Residues as "Toxic Waste"

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Published May 17, 2019 8:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, which recently banned the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters, has now classified residues from scrubber operation as "toxic industrial waste (TIW)" under Singapore's Environmental Public Health Regulations.

Under these health regulations, toxic waste must be handled by a licensed collector. This means that ships that wish to dispose of their scrubber residues in Singapore will have to hire a licensed company for the collection and disposal of the substance. Licensed collectors can accept the waste either at anchorage or alongside the pier.

Last November, the MPA announced that it will not allow ships with open-loop scrubbers to discharge scrubber wash water in port after January 1, 2020, the implementation date for the new IMO fuel sulfur limit of 0.5 percent. In order to remain in compliance, scrubber-equipped vessels will have to burn more costly 0.5 percent sulfur fuel when calling Singapore, just like ships that are not equipped with scrubbers. 

The discharge ban will have a lesser effect on ships fitted with hybrid scrubber systems, which can switch from open-loop to closed-loop mode and retain their wash residues on board. Port CEO Andrew Tan said that the measure is intended "to protect the marine environment and ensure that the port waters are clean."

The Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA 2020), the industry association for scrubber manufacturers and users, says that scrubber washwater is safe. In recent months, it has been conducting a successful campaign to convince other port authorities not to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers, and it says that it has already received no-objection letters from 20 seaports.

CSA has pointed to two recent studies that indicate that scrubber washwater meets environmental standards. In February, DNV GL verified a three-year study based on 281 wash water samples from 53 different EGCS-equipped vessels; the class society concluded that the samples were well within the allowable IMO criteria, as well as within the limits for other major water standards. A study carried out by Japan’s MLIT has also concluded that no short-term or long-term effects on marine organisms can be caused by the use the technology.