Denmark Takes the Lead in Banning Harmful Scrubbers

March 15, 2024
Public Relations

Denmark Takes the Lead in Banning Harmful Scrubbers

Change is coming. And it’s exactly what we’ve been advocating for.

Our efforts to have dirty scrubbers and their filthy, toxic washwater banned are coming into fruition as Denmark’s government, in conjunction with The Ministry for the Danish Environment, has just announced that it hopes to completely ban scrubber washwater from being dumped into its waters.

The ban on polluted scrubber washwater will hopefully be enforced beginning on July 1, 2025, and will be accompanied by the elimination of open- and closed-loop scrubber systems, the latter over a four-year transitional arrangement.

While we believe that the toxic scrubber washwater should be banned everywhere (not just in territorial waters), nevertheless, Denmark is setting a strong precedent for other countries to follow by imposing a strict legislation of a 12-nautical-mile limit. Several countries have a disturbing allowance of foul scrubber discharge dumping as close to 3 or 6 nautical miles from shore or have elected to ban the discharge at selected ports. With a12-nautical-mile limit, and following, a total ban on scrubber use, Danish shores will see an improvement in their quality of life, catalyzing other countries to impose a similar ban.

It took time, but the Danish government has finally opened its eyes to the significant damage that pollution from several heavy metals and tar substances such as lead, cadmium, nickel, anthracene and benz(a)pyrene in excessive quantities originating in scrubber washwater has had on the marine ecosystem, overall food chain, and human health.

While this ban may come at a cost to the shipping industry and equipment manufacturers, to the extent of a one-off cost of DKK 39 million (US$5.7 million) and an annual additional cost of DKK 19 million (US $2.8 million), the price that the environment has had to pay far exceeds the value for shipping companies to fund its recovery.

Who will be the next country to follow Denmark’s crucial ban on these never-were-a-solution toxic scrubbers?

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