As there is more focus on the environmental impact and all forms of emissions in the shipping sector, the practice known as degassing is coming under scrutiny. In particular, the Netherlands looks set to ban degassing of ships in transit.
The concerns focus on the potential for the release of harmful gasses with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during the process known in the industry as degassing. Environmentalists contend that the process creates health risks for crew, workers in the port, and surrounding communities. They believe it is hazardous to the environment and creates safety risks in the port.
After unloading a liquid cargo, and before they can take on new shipments, ships need to vent their tanks to remove any remaining gas vapour. These vapours can be very dangerous and potentially explosive for the ship. In addition, the tanks need to be free of these residues from their previous shipments to ensure they are within specifications before loading commences.
According to the Dutch authorities, it is common practice for ships and especially barges and smaller vessels working on coastal and inland routes to degas while in transit. This is the practice that they are especially looking at eliminating while creating an environmentally responsible alternative for this necessary process.
Speaking at a demonstration of a mobile degassing system held in the Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management announced that it will make available nearly $300,000 to support trials of mobile degassing systems.
“It is important to me that we quickly arrange good alternatives to releasing vapours while en route,” said Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen. “The existing procedure creates health risks for crews and local residents and is hazardous to the environment. We need to quickly determine the best alternative to this practice, and these tests will help.”
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