DATE: September 29, 2019
SNIP: Global shipping companies have spent millions rigging vessels with “cheat devices” that circumvent new environmental legislation by dumping pollution into the sea instead of the air, The Independent can reveal.
More than £9.7m has been spent on the devices, known as open-loop scrubbers, which extract sulphur from the exhaust fumes of ships that run on heavy fuel oil.
This means the vessels meet standards demanded by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that kick in on 1 January.
However, the sulphur emitted by the ships is simply re-routed from the exhaust and expelled into the water around the ships, which not only greatly increases the volume of pollutants being pumped into the sea, but also increases carbon dioxide emissions.
The change could have a devastating effect on wildlife in British waters and around the world, experts have warned.
For every ton of fuel burned, ships using open-loop scrubbers emit approximately 45 tons of warm, acidic, contaminated washwater containing carcinogens including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a non-profit organisation that provides scientific analysis to environmental regulators.
Heavy metal pollution has been connected to damage to the central nervous system in humans and animals while PAHs have been blamed for skin, lung, bladder, liver, and stomach cancers.
The ICCT has estimated that cruise ships with scrubbers will consume around 4 million tons of heavy fuel oil in 2020 and will discharge 180 million tons of contaminated scrubber washwater overboard.