Shipping Hazardous Cargo on European Ferries

Shipping Hazardous Cargo on European Ferries

The carriage of hazardous goods is a necessary requirement of manufacturing industries across Europe. European industry is reliant on freight ferry operators capabable of carrying these hazardous goods as part of manufacturing supply chains. Hazardous goods are usually carried as part loads or groupage but some carriers do specialise in full load movements.

There appears to be a lack of understanding by a number of transport operators of the legal requirements for the movement of hazardous goods by sea. What makes this so frustrating is the fact that as we live on an island so how do people expect to get here if not by sea? Eurotunnel cannot take all the various types of hazardous cargo there are and not every operator uses this service. There are also no tunnel or road connections from the UK to Ireland.

There are different legal requirements for the transportation of hazardous goods by road to those by sea. For example a truck operator has to run with orange plates the square plates displayed at the front and rear of a vehicle when a truck is loaded with hazardous goods and operating by road in the UK. However when the same vehicle wants to travel on a ferry arrangements need to be made by the ferry operator to stow the vehicle in a particular location on board the ship depending on the nature of the hazard of the goods on board the vehicle and dangerous goods placards haz triangles for those of a particular age must be affixed to the bulkhead and each side of the trailer or lorry the load needs to have been checked by a DGSA Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor of the relevant ferry company to ensure the goods can be carried as not all dangerous goods can be carried on ferries. Oh and when you arrive at the ferry port if the ADR Dangerous Goods paperwork is not correctly completed and signed then you arent going anywhere anyway! All of this work is undertaken to ensure that in the event of an incident such as a fire on board ship which is probably the most dangerous thing that can occur onboard ship particularly if the ship is at sea then the ships crew and emergency teams know exactly what potential hazards they have onboard.

A product that can be carried as limited quantities by road and not require ADR paperwork or orange plates could be classed as hazardous by sea. This is where the help of the DGSA or dispatch department of the consignor company can assist the transport operator to fully understand their legal obligations and thus help to ensure compliance. A goof agent can also offer help and advice to customers by discussing the product types and quantities to be shipped with ferry operators to check the goods can be accepted for shipment. No operator wants to be sat on the quayside with a load that cant be shipped and start incurring delays: if the wheels arent turning the vehicle isnt earning.

Whilst in this country we often bemoan the amount of red tape encompassing UK industry in support of health and safety legislation no one wants to star in their own disaster movie! In the UK we have a government department called the Maritime and Coastguard Agency MCA who police and support our shipping industry and ensure compliance with maritime law. The MCA recently held a seminar in the North West of England for the shipping transport and logistics industries to discuss amongst other things the issue of hazardous cargo shipments in UK territorial waters. Freightlink attended this seminar and heard from various MCA Police and Environment Agency representatives about the damage that can be done to ships road infrastructure and peoples lives if the carriage of hazardous goods is not undertaken correctly and goes wrong. We left the seminar with one story that will prove that if you get the carriage of dangerous goods wrong you will need very deep pockets.

The ferry operators informed the Maritime & Coastguard Agency enforcement unit who immediately alerted the Police at Dover Port. The driver was stopped and arrested as the vehicle disembarked from the ferry at Dover. He was later charged with contravening the Merchant Shipping Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutants Regulations 1997 and was bailed to appear at Folkestone Magistrates Court.

In passing sentence the Magistrates said. This Court takes the safety of the public very seriously. You are an experienced driver and did a deliberate act. You endangered the crew and everyone on board and the potential for disaster was driven by monetary reasons.

When shipping danger goods on freight ferrys through out Europe not just on the popular ferry routes such as Dover to Calais and Dover Dunkerque make sure you do you homework and all all the dangerous goods paperwork in place to ensure safe carriage of the hazardous goods by sea.

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