Plastic ‘Stuff’ Disappears in Overloaded Looking Shipping Container – Mick Raven
Shipping containers lost in wild weather off NSW coast may never be found, authorities say
6th June 2018
Just one of the 83 containers lost from the Liberian-flagged cargo ship YM Efficiency has been found, authorities say.
The ship lost part of its cargo in rough conditions off Port Stephens, on the New South Wales mid north coast, on Friday.
Director of NSW Maritime Services Angus Mitchell said boats had been deployed to the region to help in the search.
“It’ll start recovering anything that’s found on top of the water and in that very first layer of the water column,” Mr Mitchell said.
“We also have some divers ready on standby and we’re just waiting for the conditions and the visibility to improve.”
Eighty-two containers remain missing — two were spotted on Saturday, but have not been seen since.
“Given the conditions and particularly the rain that we’ve had over the last few days, we haven’t been able to locate any,” Mr Mitchell said.
“Whilst we believe the vast majority are very likely at the bottom of the ocean we won’t know that for sure for some time yet.”
Debris from containers strewn on beaches
Car parts, furniture, kitchen suites and bags of lollies from the containers have washed ashore.
Authorities said they expected more debris to litter the beaches after tides recede.
Thirty skip bins worth of material has already been assessed by customs officials.
Clean-up crews have turned their attention to the rocky outcrops where debris has been trapped.
“We’ve got crews from Seals Rocks in the north, right down to the top half of Stockton.” Mr Mitchell said.
“We’ve got around 100 people on the beaches and on the rocks today continuing the clean-up.”
Insurance company to foot clean-up bill
Mr Mitchell said insurers for the ship’s owners would foot the clean-up bill — estimated to be costing tens of thousands of dollars a day.
“All of the costs will be passed onto the insurance company and that’s already starting to happen now,” Mr Mitchell said.
“It really depends how long this goes on for and how much rubbish is actually picked up and disposed of. It certainly will be a considerable cost.”
The ship, which has now docked in Sydney’s Port Botany, is being scrutinised for its container tie-down procedures, as well the data records.
Investigators from the Maritime Safety Authority and Transport Safety Bureau will interview the crew, who have been waiting for authorisation to dock since the incident.
“They’ll have a look at offloading the damaged containers, but also investigate the nature of the actual incident,” Mr Mitchell said.
Soft plastics a threat to wildlife
As whale watching season gets underway, the RMS said the greatest environmental threat is from soft plastics.
“The danger posed to wildlife and marine life by plastic is certainly a very real concern,” Mr Mitchell said.
“At this stage we don’t believe the containers themselves pose a threat to the whales themselves.
“[There have been] no reports of any injury to wildlife or marine life, no strikes of any vessels at this stage.”
Mr Mitchell said it was not uncommon for containers to fall off ships.
“There’s around five to six million containers going around the world and around 10,000 get lost every year.”