Five shipping containers wash ashore near Norah Head

27 May 2020

Five 40-foot shipping containers are the largest of the debris so far to have washed ashore in NSW after a container ship lost part of its load 73 kilometres off Sydney on Sunday.

NSW Maritime A/ Executive Director Alex Barrell said the containers, locked together in a row, were located this morning at Birdie Beach near Norah Head.

Another five containers, also locked together, have been sighted during aerial surveillance off Terrigal as well as a single floating container off Wollongong, all of which will be collected by authorities.

"Under NSW emergency management arrangements, NSW Maritime is the lead agency responsible for managing the shoreline clean up," Mr Barrell said.

"We have had our staff working around the clock to attend reported locations of debris on our beaches and NSW Maritime has today appointed two contractors to lead the collection, with a workforce of 60 people. This is expected to increase as more debris comes ashore.

"This is a big job but we have good experience in responding to these kinds of incidents.

"Marine services firms Varley and AVCON each have teams of 20 trained staff who are joining our teams in the collection and safe disposal of this debris."

Mr Barrell reminded community members to report sightings of debris rather than collect it themselves so it can be logged and disposed of correctly.

"Boat operators should continue to be on the lookout for the any floating or semi-submerged containers, which would present a navigational hazard," he said.

Flexible ducting, medical face masks and yellow foam has washed up on beaches as far south as Wollongong and as far north as Catherine Hill Bay.

The 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 docked at the Port of Brisbane today.

Twenty-one of the containers lost at sea are empty, according to the ship's records.

The ship's cargo manifest indicates there are no dangerous or hazardous goods among the container contents, which include bar stools, food dehydrators, medical face masks, shields and goggles, furniture, range hoods, gazebos and cat furniture.

Members of the public who see 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.

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