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Rubbish retrieval vessel transferred from Sydney to Port Stephens for day six of container clean-up

by Penny Robins 6 Jun 07:12 UTC
Plastic bags, bottled drinks and jars of emu oil are among the debris. © ABC News

Roads and Maritime Services deployed a 12 meter long harbour cleaning vessel into the water off Port Stephens today to join in the container clean-up effort which has netted more than 30 skip bins of debris.

Roads and Maritime Executive Director Maritime Angus Mitchell said the Environmental Services vessel, one of the fleet which normally operates on Sydney Harbour, was loaded on to the back of a truck last night and driven to the Mid North Coast.

"Three of our Environmental Services Officers have also been relocated from Sydney to operate the vessel - joining in the water side contingent of boats and divers – to remove debris from the water using skimmers and other equipment," Mr Mitchell said.

"The shoreline clean-up is continuing with the 100 strong team of workers doing such a good job that there are considerably reduced quantities of material now visible along the coastline between Seal Rocks and Anna Bay."

Mr Mitchell said it was fortunate there had not yet been any reported injuries to wildlife or vessel strikes since the 83 shipping containers full of goods entered the water off the NSW coast in the early hours of Friday morning.

"With the official whale and dolphin migration season under way since the start of this month, it was timely that a pod of whales was sighted this morning when the YM Efficiency was making its way into Port Botany where it berthed at 9.36am today," Mr Mitchell said.

"Now the ship is at berth, she is the responsibility of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau who boarded the ship earlier today.

"AMSA will be responsible for overseeing the discharge operation and the ATSB will investigate the actual incident involving the containers going overboard.

"It is expected it will take many days to complete the safe offloading of the compromised containers and those remaining on board."

Mr Mitchell said the next stages of clean-up are hard to predict, and will be dependent on weather and ocean conditions.

"The possibility of the sunken containers breaking up could change the situation."

He reiterated all costs associated with the clean-up effort are going to passed on to the YM Efficiency's insurers.

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