Compliance with regulations covering cargo operations and promotion of good practice

With regard to cargo handling, ships have a duty to report any hazardous cargoes to ports and special arrangements can then be made. In general, these are compliant with HSE regulations, or are based on the IMO IMDG code. Most of the implementation in detail is carried out by private stevedores, not by the port authority (unless the port directly employs stevedores). Spills and emissions from cargo handling do occur.

In order to minimise accidental incidents operators and stevedores need to ensure that the standard of training given is adequate and that in the event of an accident, adequate procedures are in place. Regular maintenance checks should be undertaken by these parties to ensure that the risk of accidents occurring is minimised. Safety systems are in place in most ports and risk assessments are carried out for more hazardous activities. Furthermore, many ports dealing with dry bulk cargo already make use of the BATNEEC in handling operations, such as dust suppressing systems. Impacts from dust and fumes are unlikely to be in sufficient concentration to cause ecological harm if HSE regulations are complied with. Cargo accidents involving spills will trigger the appropriate level of the port emergency plan.

There is a clear incentive for ports and harbours to reduce such pollution incidents, as they represent not only a hazard to workers and the environment but also a financial loss. Loss of cargo will result in reduced profits and clean up operations may be expensive and time consuming. In severe cases fines may also be imposed where an activity is regulated under the Environmental Protection Act or other relevant legislation.

Ports and harbours can encourage good cargo handling practice amongst those working within the confines of ports and harbours, including, stevedores, terminal operators, ship’s agents and all port employees. This should focus on efforts to minimise nuisance and environmental impacts caused by their operations, with particular reference to dust, atmospheric pollution, water and soil contamination and noise.

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