Royal Caribbean, EPA, Coast Guard: Pollution Control Agreement

By January 20, 2015 Uncategorized No Comments

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (“RCCL”) has high-tech environmental initiatives including a scrubber system with the ability to remove 97% of sulfur dioxide emissions from their diesel engines. The system, set to be installed in 19 of the fleet’s ships, will put the company in a position to comply with new emissions standards set by the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) and the European Union (“EU”).

BallNew Emissions Standards
The new Emission Control Area (“ECA”) standards could compel lines to use costlier fuel and consequently make cruise routes pricier. ECAs are waters around U.S. coasts. The rationale behind strict regulations for ECAs is that emissions from vessels in the ocean have an impact on air quality on land. ECAs were developed by the United States with Canada and in agreement with the IMO.

In 2012, the IMO had already set a sulfur cap within ECAs at 1%, a figure that will be lowered to 0.1% in 2015. The EU had also recently released standards for emissions. RCCL’s high-tech Advanced Emissions Purification (“AEP”) system will enable RCCL to fall within the new regulations, and allow them to “be compliant everywhere they sail,” especially since there is a limited supply of lower-sulfur fuel.

The AEP System
The basic mechanism of AEP systems is that they “scrub” exhaust gases using water spray in the exhaust stream. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is one of the first cruise ships built with such a system, but it won’t be the last. As early as this month of January, installation is expected on 13 Royal Caribbean ships and 6 Celebrity Cruises ships. The retrofit project is a massive, complex undertaking of an unprecedented scale for RCCL, with every installation requiring months of work.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) as well as the U.S. Coast Guard had authorized exemptions that would allow RCCL to expand the program to the planned 19 ships. Permissions from these agencies grant RCCL temporary relief from the ECA’s sulfur content requirements. Ideally, the trial program on the “scrubber” technology could push forward our collective knowledge on advanced emissions control technologies for marine engines. RCCL’s program shows promise, as it may lead to greater emissions reductions than low-sulfur fuel, and at a more affordable cost.

Green initiatives are the wave of the future for the maritime industry, with so many plans and regulations on the horizon that would put our environment front and center in how businesses operate. Sometimes, the costs of complying can be daunting. We at Kemplon Engineering are always excited to report on the myriad of ways businesses like RCCL are exploring technological options that would allow for environmental compliance, but also offer economical and effective solutions.

^ Masek, Theresa Norton. “RCCL to Install Environmental Scrubbers on 19 Ships.” Travel Pulse, 22 Dec 2014. Web. 30 Dec 2014.
^ Satchell, Arlene. “Royal Caribbean ships to get emissions-control systems.” SunSentinel, 22 Dec 2014. Web. 30 Dec 2014.
^ United States Environmental Protection Agency. “EPA, Coast Guard Extend Pollution Control Agreement with Royal Caribbean: New advanced technologies allow industry to comply with emission standards, reduce costs.” (News Release)., 23 Dec 2014. Web. 30 Dec 2014.!OpenDocument
^ “Royal Caribbean Gets Time to Install Scrubbers.” World Maritime News, 24 Dec 2014. Web. 30 Dec 2014.
^ “Royal Caribbean scrubber move gets EPA, USCG nod.” Marine Log, 24 Dec 2014. Web. 30 Dec 2014.
^ “Royal Caribbean to fit exhaust gas scrubbers in 19 ships.” Marine Log, 22 Dec 2014. Web. 30 Dec 2014.
^ Photo “Hand Holding Green Earth” courtesy of ponsulak at