Following the loss of several containers from a ship off the coast of Port Stephens, some of the debris washed up on Jimmys Beach over the weekend.
MidCoast Council is echoing calls from port authorities, urging residents to leave the debris for the shipping company's contractor to collect, and not to take it upon themselves to collect anything from the beach.
"Although well-meaning residents may consider they are undertaking a community service by collecting the debris, this is not helpful," MidCoast Council local emergency management officer, Andrew Blatch said.
"No one is absolutely sure of the contents of all 83 containers that washed overboard, or that those contents are safe,” Mr Blatch said.
“There may be sorting and some sort of specific disposal required for the waste and debris that is coming from this accident.”
In addition, Customs and Border Force have to inspect the debris to make sure it is legal and safe to enter the country – just like any other foreign goods that are regularly inspected when entering Australia.
Newcastle-based Varley Group, has been appointed by the insurance company responsible for the vessel MV YM Efficiency to undertake the debris collection and removal.
Varley has been working over the weekend to collect the debris.
Due to the size and scale of the potential clean up area, the removal of debris from council beaches could take many days.
Needless to say it is a co-ordinated response across multiple agencies.
Council is transporting its beach rake from Tuncurry to Hawks Nest on Tuesday morning and it is expected to be deployed at Hawks Nest and Jimmys Beach for the remainder of the week.
And if you have already picked up any debris, please don’t put it in your general household waste or take it to any council waste facility.
You can take debris from the accident to the corner of The Anchorage and The Boulevarde at Hawks Nest, and leave it near the contractor's skip bin.
Don’t be tempted to drop any of your own waste there – fines will apply for any general waste dumped in this area.
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