IMO adopts ECGS guidelines, agrees to develop regulations for discharge water
Long-delayed updates to guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) were finalised and adopted at the 77th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 77). The meeting also agreed on the scope of work on ECGS discharge water.
The 2021 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (2021 EGCS Guidelines), updating the 2015 EGCS Guidelines, were adopted. These guidelines are there to ensure scrubbers are effective in meeting sulphur emission limits while also meeting environmental criteria for water discharges.
A 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 EGCS fails to meet the provisions of the EGCS Guidelines was also approved. It will be issued as MEPC.1/Circ.883/Rev.1 (replacing MEPC.1/Circ.883).
The MEPC 77 Working Group on Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency also discussed whether to amend the draft title and scope of work on ʺEvaluation and harmonization of rules and guidance on the discharge of discharge water from EGCS into the aquatic environment, including conditions and areasʺ.
It was agreed to not change the title or scope, apart from deleting the word “possible” from the following item in the draft scope of work: “Identify, and develop as appropriate,
possible regulatory measures and instruments”.
It sends a clear signal that regulations for EGCS discharges will be developed.
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.