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New locations emerge in the ongoing clean-up of Mid North Coast

by Penny Robins 8 Jun 00:08 UTC
Debris from Liberian ship YM Efficiency washed up north of Newcastle. The ship lost part of its cargo during stormy weather last week. © ABC News: Nancy

Aerial surveillance today revealed new remote beaches and rocky outcrops to focus on in the clean-up effort of the Mid North Coast.

Roads and Maritime Services Executive Director Maritime Angus Mitchell, who is also the State Marine Pollution Controller, said the team of 100 contracted workers is continuing to remove debris from the shoreline, as well as teams on boats cleaning and taking material from the water.

"Ongoing issues with weather and visibility have prevented dive teams from being deployed until today," Mr Mitchell said.

"There are known channels where the currents are running, so three teams of divers have taken video of what submerged objects may be visible, are taking video of what they see ahead and are manually picking up these objects.

"One of the three teams located a number of tyres on the ocean floor at Rocky Point and managed to remove 12 of these. Divers will return to the location to remove the remainder.

"Helicopter surveillance this morning has also revealed new remote beaches and rocky outcrops with debris between Mungo and Hawks Nest where the teams will likely use quad bikes to access.

"Around Fingal Spit and Shark Island are the worst impacted areas and we will get crews out to these locations as soon as practical.

"Significant progress has been made by those cleaning up Boulder Bay, Rocky Point, Jimmys Beach and Bennetts Beach.

"However, if submersed containers rupture or the tides change, it could cause another wave of rubbish."

More than 100 cubic metres of debris - which is the equivalent of almost one quarter of an Olympic swimming pool - has already been removed from the water and shoreline.

So far there have been no reported injuries to wildlife. However, today there was an unconfirmed report of a fishing trawler snagging on a submerged object about 25 kilometres off the coast of Newcastle.

This location is outside the area expected to contain debris of sunken containers, according to modelling carried out this week.

The next stages of the ongoing clean-up will depend on weather and ocean conditions.

Roads and Maritime is leading the effort in close consultation with other government authorities in order to determine the area to prioritise the clean-up, including National and Marine Parks, EPA, OEH, local councils, DPI Fisheries and the Australian Marine Safety Authority.

For further information visit www.rms.nsw.gov.au/containerincident or call 13 12 36 and select option 2.

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