Fjords sulphur plan includes scrubber ban

A cruise ship berths in the UNESCO World Heritage Geirangerfjord (credit: Norwegian Maritime Administration) A cruise ship berths in the UNESCO World Heritage Geirangerfjord (credit: Norwegian Maritime Administration)

The Norwegian Maritime Administration (NMA) is planning to ban using scrubbers to comply with a proposed 0.1% fuel sulphur limit in the country’s world heritage fjords, due to come into effect next year.

The ban will apply to ships operating in Norway’s most protected fjords - the UNESCO World Heritage West Norwegian Fjords comprising Nærøyfjord, Aurlandsfjord, Geirangerfjord, Synnulvsfjord and Tafjord – from 1 January 2019.

The proposal to ban scrubbers has been added to the sulphur limit originally planned in June. NMA noted that it had received reports of pollution in the form of soot particles and ‘foamy/oily discharges’ from scrubbers this summer.

“Experience shows that today’s cleaning systems emit visible smoke emissions, and some systems also generate discharges to sea,” said Bjørn Pedersen, head of department of legislation and international relations, NMA. “Even if the visible smoke is partly water vapour, it has a negative impact on people’s experiences of our world heritage fjords.”

NMA said that several consultative bodies had commented that it is not desirable that ships use heavy fuel oil and exhaust gas cleaning systems in the world heritage fjords. It added that several cruise ships operating in the area had chosen to replace heavy fuel oil and exhaust gas cleaning systems with marine gas oil this year.

The proposal states: “Because of the exceptional value of the world heritage fjords and the fact that we have limited knowledge of the damage potential of emissions and discharges from exhaust gas cleaning systems and the accumulation of heavy metals in threshold fjords, and also in order to reduce visible smoke in the world heritage fjords, we are proposing a prohibition against the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems as an equivalent solution in the world heritage fjords.”

The proposed regulation also includes a prohibition against incinerating waste on ships in the fjords and an exemption from current IMO Tier I NOx requirements if ships can prove that they will comply with tighter Tier III limits by 2022.

Comments on the proposal can be submitted to the NMA at post@sdir.no by 10 December.

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