Scrubber Wastewater is Bad for Our Ocean

Not all scrubbers make things cleaner! Some ships have “scrubbers” that use water to strip sulfur out of the ship’s air emissions, only to dump the resulting wastewater into the ocean. While scrubbers do take sulfur out of the air, the acidic wastewater dumped into the ocean puts heavy metals, sulfates, nitrates and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons into the marine environment.

All this pollution has a detrimental effect on marine species and the surrounding environment. To put it simply: Scrubber wastewater is extremely toxic! Scrubber wastewater is so harmful to the marine environment that many countries, such as Malaysia and Ghana, have banned dumping of scrubber wastewater in their territorial waters.

Not only do scrubbers pose a danger to the marine environment, but they also enable ships to continue the use of heavy fuel oil, the world’s dirtiest fuel. This cheap, low-grade fuel allows industry to save loads of money, all while continuing to emit harmful pollution in the air, like black carbon.

The thing is, scrubbers aren’t necessary. In order to eliminate scrubber wasterwater and lessen harmful sulfur emissions from our air, ships can use distillate, which has a low sulfur content when burned and enables the use of particulate filters to decrease black carbon emissions.

Take action by asking the EPA to ban the dumping of scrubber wastewater discharges in U.S. territorial seas.

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