HUNDREDS of containers washed up on Merewether Beach on Tuesday, months after a ship lost cargo off the Hunter’s coastline.
In June, 81 containers fell overboard from the ship YM Efficiency as it travelled 30 kilometres southeast of Newcastle.
Following the incident debris washed up across Port Stephens and further up the coast, leaving Newcastle’s beaches mostly untouched, until this week.
On Tuesday morning beachgoers who opted to head to Merewether for an ocean dip found more than 500 plastic containers marked lanolin cream.
City of Newcastle crews arrived early to begin the clean up and had most of the waste collected by 7am.
Merewether local Brett Piva, who visits the beach most mornings, was shocked to see the sand littered with debris.
“My girlfriend and I just noticed all of these white things scattered along the beach,” he said.
“It was pretty bad to see to be honest. We would have picked up at least 250 containers and we only covered a small area.”
Since the incident in June several agencies have worked to salvage rubbish, with operations led by Roads and Maritime Services.
“Several hundred small plastic containers of lanolin washed up from what is believed to be one of the containers lodged on the ocean floor,” RMS executive director of maritime Angus Mitchell said.
“Cleaning crews have recovered most of the containers, which are in good condition, suggesting one of the containers may have recently been opened.”
Roads and Maritime Services continue to lead the shoreline clean up on an as-needs basis, after scaling back operations in September. Crews and the insurer will carry out early morning patrols on all Newcastle beaches in the next few days to identify and clean up any further debris.
A sub-sea search began on June 22, organised by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, to track down the missing containers
“The initial sub-sea search for missing shipping containers identified a total of 37 probable containers and what appears to be associated debris on the sea floor off the coast of Newcastle,” an AMSA statement read.
The search was conducted over a period of six days on behalf of the YM Efficiency’s insurer, Aus Ship, and owner, Yang Ming.
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