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Yoga mats wash up in Coffs Harbour as container debris clean up continues

by Penny Robins 8 Jun 05:24 UTC

Debris today has been confirmed as far north as Coffs Harbour as the container clean-up continues along the NSW coast.

Roads and Maritime Services Executive Director Maritime Angus Mitchell said a team has been deployed north of the existing clean up zone to retrieve yoga mats which this morning were confirmed to be washing up along the Coffs coastline.

"These mats have been sighted at Murrays Beach at Sawtell, and Emerald and Moonee beaches at Coffs Harbour," Mr Mitchell said.

"Divers have also discovered a large quantity of light plastic material in the water column near Fingal Bay and are removing as much as possible from the water.

"Aerial surveillance yesterday reported large amounts of scattered debris at Dark Point north past Mungo Brush, where some of the teams are focusing on cleaning today.

"Helicopters are also being used today to pick up the 1.5 tonne bulker bags from clean up areas for processing."

Mr Mitchell said negotiations are also under way with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority about possible ways in which the containers – believed to have lodged on the sea bed - can be mapped and potentially retrieved.

The clean-up effort continues in close consultation with the multi-agency effort of stakeholders across local, state and federal jurisdictions being spearheaded by Roads and Maritime, which is leading the effort under the NSW State Waters Marine Oil and Chemical Spill Contingency Plan, prepared in support of the NSW State Emergency Plan (EMPLAN) and the National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies (National Plan).

Roads and Maritime officers and those from other emergency response, environment and wildlife agencies participate in regular pollution training exercises which are simulated responses including, coincidentally, one in December last year, which was held at Port Stephens.

Mr Mitchell thanked the local community for their interest in joining in the clean-up effort.

"On the eve of the long weekend, it's only appropriate to acknowledge the great efforts of people in local coastal communities who have been helping or want to help remove this debris from what is essentially their backyard.

"The contractor engaged by the ship's insurer is working with local councils to ensure there are adequate waste facilities available to dispose of debris at key locations.

"Officially though, the community is unable to be formally engaged to help for safety, environmental and liability reasons. We do however encourage the community to continue reporting debris through the number below."

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

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