A MAJOR cleanup began last weekend on Jimmy’s Beach in a bid to avoid an environmental disaster after a shipping container came ashore at Yacaaba, breaking up and spilling its contents into the ocean.
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The container was just one of 83 lost from a cargo ship bound for Sydney last Friday.
The accident happened in rough seas off Port Stephens, the container ship on a voyage from Taiwan.
Two more containers were spotted floating off Fingal Bay and Maritime Services issued a warning to shipping and boats to be on the lookout, as many of the containers were thought to be floating just below the surface.
Adding to the emergency, shocking weather conditions, heavy rain and gale force winds.
Roads and Maritime Services were called to the area on Saturday when some of the lost cargo and bits of the container started wash up at the Boulders and Jimmy’s Beach, but by Sunday it became clear that it was turning into an environmental nightmare.
“I can tell you it’s a mess,” local Julie Sims told News Of The Area.
“Plastic bags, plastic containers, food wrappers, nappies, surgical mask, it’s all washing up on the foreshores and then blowing into the dunes and bush.”
Remarkably, some of the cargo washed up included clocks bound for Ikea.
A small army of brave souls battled the elements to do what could to clean up the area, but the rain and an afternoon high tide made it a challenging task.
“Roads and Maritime Services in collaboration with the owners and insurers of the ‘YM Efficiency’ are working to locate, identify and secure containers that have come ashore, predominantly in the Port Stephens region,” Marnie Procter from RMS told News Of the Area.
“Debris has been confirmed at Jimmy’s Beach inside Port Stephens and Rocky Point near Anna Bay.”
Maritime Services sent a number of photos to News Of The Area of the debris and damage to the ship.
“Other debris found at Fingal Head includes some high and low density foam likely to be from the container and packing materials.”
“I suspect we’ll be collecting this stuff for weeks but we just need to stay on top of it until the ocean stops spitting it up.” Julie Sims said.
When News Of The Area went to print ,the damaged container ship was still out at sea, deemed to dangerous to be let into port in Sydney.
The weekend of shocking weather also caused more erosion and damage at the Winda Woppa end of Jimmy’s Beach.
Resident Ken Garrard said, “The Geo-matting that has been used to form the substructure and the substructure itself remains pretty much intact except for being marginally undercut.”
“Council works crew have already been to the site and placed protective barriers.”
By Margie TIERNEY