Global Shipping Is Making False Impressions About Circumventing Pollution — Billions Spent On “Cheat Devices”

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Water goes everywhere. It reaches places and distances that other things can’t with such flexibility and ingenuity. To attach pollutants to that ingenious reach is counter to intelligence and consciousness.

Appearances are not always what they seem in the continuing divide between business and environmental concerns. What appears to be an improvement may not at all. Sometimes “progress” is simply shifting the toxins from here to there, or even just hiding their records.

The Independent informs us that the shipping industry is yet another industry where the burden put on the environment is not being reduced as much as it’s being shifted and concealed. Experts warn this could have a terrible, devastating effect on wildlife in British waters — and, remember, water goes everywhere.

Global shipping companies are rigging vessels with “cheat devices,” even to the tune of billions of dollars, to create a false impression. By circumventing new environmental legislation, they are simply dumping pollution into the sea to protect the air. Seems a case of cutting off one’s foot instead of one’s hand, metaphorically.

Will Crisp of The Independent follows the money: “More than $12bn (£9.7bn) 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.”

There are increasing concerns in all directions, as the vessels will then meet the coming standards demanded by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which start in January, but they are simply re-directing the exhaust from air to water, which will also increase carbon dioxide emissions, saving nothing in net. The British waters will be compromised.

Crisp continues (via The Independent): “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 organization that provides scientific analysis to environmental regulators.

“Increasing volumes of wastewater will create toxic sediment around ports and could have a devastating effect on the wildlife in British waters, according to Lucy Gilliam, a campaigner for Transport and Environment, a Brussels-based NGO.

“‘In the North Sea and some parts of the Channel, the water quality has already been heavily degraded,’ she said.

“Wildlife in these areas is likely to be far more vulnerable to the effects of having ships discharging huge volumes of acidic, polluted, warm water from scrubbers.”

Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

The Independent informs that a total of 3,756 ships have already had scrubbers installed, according to information gathered from the DNV GL, the world’s largest ship classification company. Of the 3,756 total, a bare 23 of these vessels have had closed-loop scrubbers installed — that is, a version of the device that does not discharge into the sea. The better system carefully stores the extracted sulphur in tanks and takes it to a “Safe” disposal facility in a port. One still wonders – where does it go then? The only effective answer is emissions-free vessels.

“The Exhaust Gas Cleaning System Association has estimated that 4,000 ships will be operating with scrubbers by the time the legislation is enforced, up from fewer than a hundred in 2013,” Crisp adds.

What ships are the ones first adopting the devices? The worst polluters, larger vessels with the biggest engines. It is never a wonder why many similar to our dear modern-day heroine are healthfully venting some objections, frustration, and anger at a system that is not working — and sailing the ocean instead. She does it for her generation, and my grandchildren’s as well. Thank you, Greta.

As with animals, humans are affected by PAHs, which are linked to skin, lung, bladder, liver, and stomach cancers.

The romancing of cruise life, until we see zero-emissions vessels, is something someone educated on this matter could no longer engage in.

Crisp continues,

The other sad thing here is that the money spent to cover up a problem is just being wasted. “Imagine how far $12bn could have gone if it was applied towards developing and deploying technologies for zero-emission vessels,” Bryan Comer, a senior researcher at ICCT, said the use of scrubbers by cruise ships is a particular concern, adds.

Why the misguided technology exists at all is the question.

On the positive side, some countries have objected, such as the UAE, whose Port of Fujairah announced a ban on the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters. And in China, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and the US, bans on scrubber discharge in some regions are in place.

Featured image: North Atlantic water, by Cynthia Shahan | CleanTechnica

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Video

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Cynthia Shahan

Cynthia Shahan, started writing after previously doing research and publishing work on natural birth practices. Words can be used improperly depending on the culture you are in. (Several unrelated publications) She has a degree in Education, Anthropology, Creative Writing, and was tutored in Art as a young child thanks to her father the Doctor. Pronouns: She/Her

Cynthia Shahan has 947 posts and counting. See all posts by Cynthia Shahan