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Many vessels have been equipped with Scrubbers to meet new sulphur emission requirements. Scrubbers can be open-loop, closed-loop or hybrid systems – with the former and the latter allowing the discharge of Scrubber Exhaust Wash water. This is highly acid water, typically. Different regulations set different pH discharge limits of this water.
Some countries like Singapore, China and Gibraltar do not allow operation of Scrubbers in their ports. While a growing number of countries including the United States with VGP 2013 on the other hand set different requirements. Vessels need to have their open-loop Scrubber Exhaust Wash water tested periodically – requiring specific chemical buffers and cooling of shipboard samples, as well involving complex laboratory-based equipment and machinery.
Shipowners can chose for their vessels to participate in a IMO Washwater Data Collection program for Scrubber Exhaust Wash water discharges (MEPC.340(77)). Yet so far as an exception, the Australia AMSA has made this collection of data obligatory for all Australian port calls.
In short: Scrubber Exhaust Wash water compliance can be complex.