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Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW LEADERBOARD

APL England container spill off NSW, Australia

by NSW Maritime 6 Aug 09:08 PDT
APL England container spill © NSW Maritime

Almost two years after the YM Efficiency we were again challenged with a container spill. This time about 73 kilometres off Port Botany, when the APL England lost 50 containers after loss of propulsion on heavy seas on 24 May.

As the combat agency we wasted no time coordinating with the Port Authority of NSW, the NSW EPA and the insurer in the aftermath of the incident. As containers and debris began to wash up from Bass Point to Port Stephens, we had up to 100 people and heavy machinery in the field cleaning up more than four tonnes of debris.

Although 24 of the containers were empty, some were refrigerated and their foam lining was dispersed through coastal waters, washing up in small fragments on the shore. Debris included surgical facemasks, packets of Panko bread crumbs, plastic food containers, and a host of other items, which are still washing up in small quantities along the coast.

We located containers using aerial surveillance flights, oversaw two helicopter lifts of container parts, and towed a number of containers into Brooklyn to be craned out of the water. One of the containers broke away from the tow and was washed up in South Maroubra, where we sent divers to assess and retrieve debris.

We worked closely with local councils and Surf Life Saving to manage operations and debris reports ahead of the June long weekend. AMSA led the prosecution of the ship's captain, claiming $22.5 million in costs.

The recent east coast lows sent teams back out in the field to deal with the debris washed ashore, and investigate another container sighting 26 nautical miles east of Gerringong.

The shipping company has been instructed to locate and retrieve the remaining 34 containers still at sea.

We will continue monitoring our coastline for around 12 months. Call 13 12 36 (Option 2) to report any debris you see.

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