Accurate scrubber wash water monitoring – a necessary investment for future compliance, by Matthew Kenney

The implementation of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) 0.5% sulphur cap is set to be the first of many new environmental regulations over the coming years. Introduced to reduce the shipping industry’s impact on the heath and wellbeing of seafarers, and coastal communities, there is still some uncertainty about future regulation. With this in mind, ship owners and operators need to ensure that they are making careful and considered decisions in relation to the future design of their vessels, if they are to comply with future regulation, while also protecting investments.

It is critical for both those who have already invested in scrubbers as a route to IMO2020 compliance, and for those looking to do so (Foreship have predicted that 25% of the world’s fleet will have installed scrubbers by 2025), to implement all that they can to ensure the longevity of the technology. The importance of this safeguarding is highlighted by the recent narrowing of the HSFO-VLSFO price spread, as well as the long termism of maritime technological investments.

Amid ongoing research in to the consolidated impact of scrubber wash water on port and coastal marine ecology, ensuring the total safeguarding of operations is of utmost importance. The IMO is yet to align all signatory states on one unified policy approach in relation to the testing of scrubber wash water. Therefore, vessel owners and scrubber manufactures alike must seek to take preventative action and do all they can to futureproof their operations to ensure compliance with evolving regulations.

A crucial part of this preventative action is the ability to accurately measure and monitor wash water effluent, which will significantly reduce risk to both owners and manufacturers. While the IMO has provided guidelines for methodology and monitoring across almost all aspects of wash water effluents, there currently exists no guidance on the measurement protocol for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

The industry recognises such lack of methodological standards for monitoring PAH level as an issue, and one that fails to protect those who have invested in scrubbers from possible future regulation. In turn, owners who have invested in scrubbers to remain compliant can end up blindsided and in a position of non-compliance when eventually we have regulatory clarity on PAH measurement methodology – or should current legislation change.

For this reason, owners looking for monitoring systems should ensure that their system of choice performs the full regulatory analysis, as required by the IMO guidance, including PAH, pH, turbidity (to ISO 7027: 1999) and temperature. Installed in over 250 vessels and certified by DNV-GL and ClassNK, Chelsea’s Sea Sentry provides users with a full-range PAH measurement using a proven and highly accurate sensing technique. In addition, combined with its technical expertise, Chelsea is also working closely with leading global scrubber manufacturers to offer owners and operators a package solution designed to futureproof ship owners from impending regulation.

System design must fully integrate accurate scrubber wash water monitoring from the planning stage to adequately reduce the risk of future non-compliance and maximise value. Moving forward, proven, reliable and accurate wash water monitoring systems should be viewed as compulsory for those looking to fit scrubbers into their current or future fleet. Shipowners and operators have the ability to take action before issues arise, and mitigate the risks today to protect their investment.