Ship company apologises after container spill sees debris wash up on beaches

The Taiwanese shipping company whose vessel lost 83 containers in waters off NSW has apologised to locals after hundreds of kilos of debris washed up on pristine beaches.

The YM Efficiency, making its way from Taiwan to Sydney, was last week hit by heavy swells about 30km off the coast of Port Stephens that toppled the containers into the sea and damaged another 30.

In the past four days, plastics, building materials and other items have washed ashore.

Some of the flotsam that has washed up on shore after the shipping containers toppled into the sea. Source: AAP

“We know that the marine incident has brought a lot of public concern,” Yang Ming spokesman Steven Ka told AAP on Tuesday.

“We do apologise for all the inconveniences caused to local residents.

“Of course we will take full responsibility to recover and to minimise the impact to the marine environment.”

Locals, along with hundreds of people contracted by the ship’s insurers, spent Tuesday cleaning up flotsam that included nappies, sanitary products, car parts and plastic on at least six beaches around Port Stephens.

Divers will also join the clean-up effort scouring the ocean bed to pick up sunken rubbish near Hawks Nest on Wednesday, a Roads and Maritime Safety spokesman said.

Locals spent Tuesday trying to clean up the mess. Source: AAP

“Continuing bad weather is hampering efforts,” RMS spokesman Angus Mitchell said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow the forecast is for the weather and visibility to improve slightly, so divers will be deployed.”

Mr Ka is communicating daily via email with the ship’s Captain Chinsheng Yang who reported no injuries among about a dozen of the crew members aboard the vessel when the weather hit.

The 43,000-tonne YM Efficiency is anchored off Sydney’s Cronulla beach, as it waits entry to berth in Port Botany after being delayed to 8am on Wednesday.

Items washed ashore include nappies, sanitary products, car parts and plastic goods. Source: AAP

“We are trying to bring the vessel into the port as soon as possible,” Mr Ka told AAP.

Investigations will be conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau when the ship docks, which will determine whether further action will be taken.

“The vessel will continue her voyage to Melbourne and Brisbane and back to Asia (Taiwan and China),” Mr Ka told AAP.

“But this might change because first we need to bring the vessel to the port.”