The shipmaster of a Singapore-registered vessel which spilled over 50 shipping containers off the New South Wales coast has been charged with pollution and damaging marine environment.
- About 15 of the spilled containers have been found
- A team of 100 people have been working along a large stretch of NSW coast to clean up containers and their contents
- The ship’s operator said the spill was due to bad weather and the captain and crew had their full support
The vessel was en route to Melbourne from China when rough seas caused its containers to topple overboard on Sunday.
The Australian Martine Safety Authority (AMSA) laid charges against the master of APL England on Friday and said the spill was a result of poor cargo loading.
“This and other incidents remind us of the important role the ship’s master has in ensuring the ships that ply our waters are operated safely and do not damage our marine environment,” AMSA operational general manager Allan Schwartz said in a statement.
The decision did not detract from the responsibility of the ship owner APL Singapore, insurer Steamship Mutual and operator ANL, he added.
ASMA also ordered $22 million from APL Singapore on Friday under the Protection of the Seas Act, which must be paid before the ship will be released from detention at the Port of Brisbane.
“This provides a commitment that they will remediate all impacts of this incident,” Mr Schwartz said.
“That $22 million covers estimated costs including that of a clean-up.”
ANL hires clean-up crews, supports captain and crew of ship
In a statement, APL England said the spill was a result of adverse weather conditions last Saturday.
“This was an unnerving event, even for seasoned maritime professionals, and the captain and the crew have ANL’s full support,” it said.
“We are committed to following high safety standards for all vessels. We are fully cooperating with the authorities in transparency in their investigations.”
ANL also said it had contracted two companies to help with the clean-up, including the removal of debris and spilled containers.
NSW Maritime acting executive director Alex Barrell on Friday said there were about 100 people working between Wollongong and Port Stephens to remove containers and their contents from beaches and bays.
Efforts were focused on Cronulla and nearby Sydney beaches at Little Bay, Maroubra and Tamarama, as well as at Newcastle and Port Stephens.
Some 15 containers have been accounted for.