‘I felt like crying’: Shipping containers ruin town
A NEW South Wales Central Coast community is still cleaning up waves of rubbish dumped on their normally pristine beaches, days after rough seas knocked 83 shipping containers off an African freight ship.
Dozens of containers from the fully-loaded Liberian ship YM Efficiency fell into the ocean on Friday night, just 30 kilometres from the town of Port Stephens.
The 50,000-tonne ship had been making its way from Taiwan to Sydney when it encountered rough weather. Many of the containers hit into each other before falling into the ocean, tossing their contents throughout the Pacific Ocean.
The NSW community has spent the entire weekend and much of today cleaning up the beaches, finding everything from packets of nerds to washed up clocks.
Corrugated iron from the shipping containers, food items in plastic bags, car parts, sanitary items, plastic bottles, cups and empty plastic tubs are just some of the hundreds of items locals are discovering.
The effort to get the beaches clean again has been described by some as "overwhelming" after locals awaken every morning to find overnight waves have littered the sand again.
Earlier on Monday, David Fingret, a Central coast local, said the sheer size of the clean-up had been "a real eye-opener".
"Well done to everyone down there helping so far. I know it's a little overwhelming, but we just have to keep turning up for a while and collecting this garbage as the ocean sends it in. There is no point waiting for the council response and this company apparently appointed by the shipping line to manage the clean-up has been all but invisible as far as I can tell," Mr Fingret wrote in a local community group.
"The time for blame and costs is later. Right now we just need many hands down on the beaches removing garbage as it arrives. Bring your kids too … apart from the exercise this is a real eye-opener for anyone who doesn't think plastic is a problem for the planet.
"But mostly just please come down whenever you can and help us clean this mess up …"
One of the worst hit was Jimmy's Beach in Hawks Nest with most locals posting photos of what they're finding there.
Julie Sims has been regularly posting confronting photos of the sheer amount of rubbish washing up on Jimmy's Beach.
Earlier today, Ms Sims said there'd be a group of people cleaning up all week.
"Huge thanks to all the volunteers who braved the weather to help clean this mess from Jimmy's Beach today.
"We have such a great community, you should be very proud! This will be an ongoing job, so if you couldn't make it today we will be there all week," she wrote.
Another local Christian Patteson discovered the iron from one of the rogue shipping containers, posting a photo of the hunk of metal after it had washed up on nearby rocks.
"I could not manage to pick this piece of rubbish up! It is around past the boulders near Shag Rock. Quite impressive actually," Mr Patteson wrote.
The Liberian company that lost the containers has since employed Varley, a local company, to put skip bins out for volunteers to dump their rubbish in.
It also did an aerial survey to assess the damage and search for lost containers that might still be floating in the ocean.
Despite the attempts at cleaning up, the locals know they have a long road ahead.
Every morning when the tide comes in, so does waves and waves of rubbish.
Speaking to Nine News, Ms Sims said volunteers are finding "mountains" of rubbish on a daily basis.
"There's been mountains and mountains of rubbish and debris washing in. It's plastic, car parts, lolly wrappers, drink bottles - just plastic and more plastic," she said.
"It's horrible. We cleaned up this stretch of beach yesterday and we knew it was going to keep coming back in but to come and see the next wave of it - and it's different rubbish turning up today - I just felt like crying."
YM Efficiency is docking in Sydney on Tuesday and a recovery operation will begin to get all of its remaining items off-board safely and without anything else falling into the ocean.