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27 May 2020
NSW coastal communities on high alert for debris and containers

Transport for NSW is reminding beachgoers and coastal councils of what to do when debris or shipping containers wash up on beaches after boxes washed ashore on Bondi Beach this week.

NSW Maritime A/ Executive Director NSW Maritime Alex Barrell said plans were advanced to deal with the impact of 40 containers that were lost overboard on Sunday from the Singapore-flagged cargo ship APL England.

“Despite these containers being lost 70 kilometres offshore, NSW Maritime has been preparing for exactly this – how to respond in the event containers or debris wash ashore,” Mr Barrell said.

“We have been advising coastal councils of what they need to do if containers and their contents come ashore between Sydney and Gosford as modelling of sea currents suggested.

“The first debris - boxes of flexible ducting, commonly used in heating and cooling systems – has come ashore at Bondi and Long Bay Beach. Debris has also been found by members of the public at Magenta Beach and The Entrance.

“These are consistent with items on the ship’s cargo manifest, along with building supplies, protective equipment, plastic bottles and aircraft seats. Thankfully, no hazardous materials are reported in what fell overboard.”

Mr Barrell said Transport for NSW will lead an effort involving NSW authorities, local councils and the Australian Marine Safety Authority to remove any debris which washes ashore.

He said it was important boat operators were on the look out for any floating containers which can pose a safety hazard to other passing boats such as fishing trawlers.

“And of course from an environmental point of view it is best not to have the contents of shipping containers floating around in and washing up on our shores,” Mr Barrell said.

“We will be managing any further collection and safe disposal of debris from this ship as part of our marine pollution responsibilities, in the same way we did in the weeks and months following a similar container overboard incident two years ago with the YM Efficiency.”

Cargo ship APL England lost 40 containers 73 kilometres south east of Sydney on Sunday. The vessel had been travelling from China and was en route to Melbourne. It will now dock at the Port of Brisbane.

Members of the public who witness any suspected debris or shipping containers on NSW beaches should contact the NSW Maritime Info Line 13 12 36 or report via email to incident@transport.nsw.gov.au.