ECGS guidelines and discharge policy on MEPC 77 agenda

ECGS guidelines and discharge policy on MEPC 77 agenda

Long-delayed matters relating to exhaust gas cleaning systems, including proposed revised EGCS guidelines, are due for consideration during the 77th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 77) which meets 22-26 November.

A Working group will be tasked with finalising draft 2021 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (2021 EGCS Guidelines), updating the 2015 EGCS Guidelines. These guidelines are there to ensure scrubbers are effective in meeting sulphur emission limits while also meeting environmental criteria for water discharges.

The working group (WG) will also aim to finalise the draft revised MEPC circular on Guidance on indication of ongoing compliance in the case of the failure of a single monitoring instrument, and recommended actions to take if the exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) fails to meet the provisions of the EGCS Guidelines.

The guidelines and revised circular, once the WG has concluded the drafts, need to be approved by MEPC in plenary.

Another task for the WG is to finalise the draft revised title and scope of work of output 1.23 on ʺEvaluation and harmonization of rules and guidance on the discharge of discharge water from EGCS into the aquatic environment, including conditions and areasʺ.

The discharge water from open loop scrubbers remains a hot topic, and is subject to a number of unilateral local restrictions, including complete bans in some ports and areas.

The IMO has received a number of submissions containing studies which, inter alia, claim to prove that EGCS discharge water is harmful to the aquatic environment in various locations, or that they cause no harm. It is hard to work out what to make of these conflicting studies, but IBIA hopes decisions will be made on sound science after careful assessment, without prejudice. See our statement on the subject on this link.

The purpose of the discussion at MEPC 77 is to develop the right tools to properly assess the environmental impact of EGCS discharges to form the basis for future guidelines and, in time, agree on an appropriate regulatory IMO framework.

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