BUL - Safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers

    BUL Veilig laden en lossen van bulkschepen

    On 4 December 2001, Parliament and Council approved Directive 2001/96/EC ‘establishing harmonised requirements and procedures for the safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers’ (BUL-001). The provisions entered into force on 1 March 2004.

    The purpose of this Directive is to enhance the safety of bulk carriers calling at terminals in the Member States in order to load or unload solid bulk cargoes, by reducing the risks of excessive stresses and physical damage to the ship's structure during loading or unloading, through the establishment of harmonised suitability requirements for those ships and terminals; and harmonised procedures for cooperation and communication between those ships and terminals.

    In view of the high number of shipping accidents involving bulk carriers with an associated loss of human lives, further measures should be taken to enhance safety in maritime transport within the framework of the common transport policy. The loading and unloading of solid bulk cargoes, if not properly conducted, can indeed contribute to the loss of bulk carriers, either by over-stressing the ship's structure or by mechanically damaging its structural members in the cargo holds.

    Through a number of Assembly Resolutions, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) adopted recommendations on the safety of bulk carriers addressing ship/port interface issues in general and loading and unloading operations in particular. In December 1997, the IMO adopted the Assembly Resolution A.862(20), a Code of Practice for the Safe Loading and Unloading of Bulk Carriers., which is also called the Bulk, Loading, Unloading-Code or BLU-Code (BUL-002 + 002bis). The IMO urged contracting governments to implement this Code at the earliest possible opportunity and to inform IMO of any non-compliances.

    In the Resolution, the IMO further urged contracting governments, where solid bulk cargo loading and unloading terminals are located, to introduce laws so that a number of key principles necessary for the implementation of this Code could be enforced.

    Directive 2001/96/EC gives a number of requirements for bulk carriers. Not only bulk carriers calling at terminals, but also the terminals themselves should be suitable for loading and unloading solid bulk carriers. A terminal representative has to be appointed and a quality management system has to be implemented in accordance with the ISO 9000 standard or equivalent. The masters of the bulk carriers have to receive an information booklet at the terminal for loading and unloading solid bulk cargoes.

    The Directive determines that the principles concerning masters’ and terminal’s responsibilities apply as laid down in the BLU-Code. There are procedures for before and during loading and unloading. Good cooperation and communication between the ship and the terminal is essential. Member States have to submit an evaluation report on the implementation of the Directive, so that the Commission can evaluate its application. Moreover, the terminals for solid bulk have to confirm to IMO that they have adopted codes and recommendations on ship/shore cooperation.

    Some relevant documents:
    BUL-002 + 002bis: BLU-code - Ship/Shore Safety Checklist; Code of practice for the safe loading or unloading of dry bulk cargo carriers (International Maritime Organisation (IMO))

    BUL-001: Directive 2001/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 December 2001 establishing harmonised requirements and procedures for the safe loading and unloading of bulk carriers (European Parliament and the Council)