Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Only 23 of the nearly 4000 ships that have installed scrubbers have put “closed-loop” devices in place that actually capture the sulfur and dispose of it at a proper facility.
Why This Matters: Shifting pollution from one “medium” to another is obviously very troubling — it doesn’t meet the spirit of the rule and is particularly disturbing given the U.N.’s report last week that ocean health is in dire trouble due to climate change. The sulfur that ships are diverting from the air into the water around the ships is harmful to oceans and marine life as well as exacerbating carbon dioxide emissions.
This is a serious loophole in the shipping regulation that should be closed before more ships are fitted with this water-polluting technology.
How the Open Loop Scrubbers Work
According to The Independent, each ton of fuel burned using open-loop scrubbers to take the sulfur out of the air instead results in a discharge of approximately 45 tons of warm, acidic, contaminated wastewater that contains carcinogens including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals.
Worse yet, these open-loop scrubbers will allow ships to continue to run on highly polluting heavy fuel oil rather than cleaner fuels. The discharges will foul marine ecosystems by contaminating sediments and killing sensitive marine life such as corals. Moreover, for cruise ships, these pollutants will be introduced into pristine marine areas making them much more contaminated as a result. Open-loop scrubbers also increase carbon dioxide emissions because the ships with them require more fuel for their operations. Some ports in places like China and Germany are taking matters into their own hands and prohibiting scrubber discharges into the water within their 12-mile territorial sea.
Just last week, a panel of expert scientists on climate change mitigation opportunities in the ocean suggested that if ships were to clean up their act, that could cut up to 1.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2050. But not if they are shifting air pollution into the ocean rather than actually reducing it.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Research has found that smoke and ash from Australia’s massive 2019 and 2020 wildfires triggered widespread algal blooms thousands of miles away. The Duke University-led study reported that the phenomenon could be effective in sequestering additional carbon, but algal blooms can also be toxic and devastating to wildlife and […]
You may remember our special Earth Day interview with Friend of the Planet, Brian Skerry. Well, he’s in the news again, but this time for working on the Emmy Award-winning documentary, Secrets of the Whales. The four-part series explores the complex lives of five whale species, including orcas, humpbacks, belugas, narwhals, and sperm whales. […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer A motion rejecting deep-sea mining was largely supported by delegates at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, currently meeting in Marseille, France. The motion calls for a moratorium on extracting minerals from deep below the ocean surface, as well as reforms for the International Seabed Authority, which is responsible for […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.