In this two-step project, Clear Seas first worked with partner Serco Canada Marine to research and document the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems, commonly known as scrubbers, to reduce sulphur emissions from ships. Building on the results of this initial work, Clear Seas conducted further research to expand the literature search and source additional data for a detailed exploration of scrubber discharge water and the pollutants it contains.
This research initiative contributes new findings to the debate on the impact of scrubber discharge water, and supports effective planning, use and regulation of scrubber systems in Canadian waters and beyond. By taking an in-depth look at the data and analytical methods used across a range of studies to support diverse conclusions on scrubber impacts, this work also identifies nuances and differences between the available assessments and brings clarity to conflicting views on the acceptability of scrubbers from an environmental standpoint.
The evidence from this study supports the conclusions of policy makers and local regulatory bodies who are restricting the discharge from scrubbers in confined waters like estuaries, harbours, and anchorages. Learn more about scrubbers and why their use is contentious and restricted in some coastal areas, here.
Although the discharge of low pH in scrubber water can be managed at the point of discharge or by relying on dilution in the receiving waters, the contribution of scrubber wash water to ocean acidification remains a point of concern.
This research provides further evidence supporting the hypothesis that low pH conditions cause leaching of metal components in the scrubber system (pipes and fittings).
Jennifer Steele, Manager of Research and Knowledge Mobilization, Clear Seas
Paul Blomerus, Executive Director, Clear Seas
Published August 29, 2022