IT’S been almost 24 months since the YM Efficiency lost a reported 83 shipping containers during fresh weather on her voyage from Taiwan to Sydney.
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A further 30 containers on board were damaged with a huge amount of debris washing up on the beaches of Port Stephens and the Mid North Coast.
One container washed up on Yacaaba Headland.
A massive clean up operation followed which saw Varley Group the company contracted by the vessel’s insurer and responsible for feet on the ground to collect the debris washed ashore.
750 cubic metres of debris had been collected by Varley Group in just 18 days from the incident, however, debris has continued to wash ashore and disrupt local commercial fishing operations.
Fishers have reported damage to their nets and hauling in push bikes rather than fish since the incident.
Now the MV Pride is engaged in the delicate operation of collecting 63 identified containers from the seabed.
The operation was finalised last week.
Mangled office chairs, push bikes, cars, utes, tyres, batteries and other products have been recovered so far.
The MV Pride’s crew are using subsea robotic equipment to clear the seabed.
This dirty job won’t be finished until all the containers and debris is recovered by MV Pride, back at the onshore the waste is processed, and sorted for appropriate disposal.
Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington told News Of The Area, “When the owner of YM Efficiency refused to clean up its own mess, it was a relief when the Australian Maritime Safety Authority stepped up and committed to removing the containers from the ocean floor. Quite rightly, AMSA is sending the clean-up bill to the ship’s owners who are so far, refusing to pay it.
“AMSA’s actions send a strong message to overseas shipping companies – you cannot pollute our oceans and sail away to leave communities to deal with the consequence for decades.
“Port Stephens experienced enough consequences already when our beautiful beaches were strewn with debris and fishers lost fishing grounds.
“On behalf of our community, I thank AMSA for cleaning up the containers and preventing further pollution of Port Stephens’ pristine waterways,” she said.
For environmentalists and commercial fishers the recovery of the containers is a definite win for the environment in the long term, however recovery of the costs of the clean-up from the YM Efficiency’s insurer could take much longer.
By Marian SAMPSON