Prime Mover Magazine

Removal of upturned barge and sewage truck likely to start soon

Plans are being locked in for the removal of the upturned barge and sewage truck from the water just off Great Mackerel Beach at Pittwater.

Transport for NSW Executive Director – Maritime, Mark Hutchings, said NSW Maritime is working with all stakeholders, including the vessel and truck owners and their insurers, to coordinate the complex salvage effort.

“The main focus throughout this delicate maritime retrieval is on ensuring the best safety outcomes for personnel on site, including the public, while minimising the risk to the environment, noting there is around 10,000 litres of sewage contained inside the holding tank of the truck,” said Hutchings.

“Offshore weather will be a critical factor in determining the timing of the removal of the truck and barge from the water as barges and equipment need to travel offshore to the site from Sydney Harbour.

“We are confident the barge and truck are secure in location and there is no indication of sewage leaking from the truck on the seabed. We also know the truck is lying upside down beneath the barge.

“Two crane barges are scheduled to leave Sydney Harbour on Tuesday next week, weather permitting, and the exact method for retrieving the barge and truck from the water are being finalised.

“A number of options are being examined by the salvage master and may include decanting the sewage from the truck while carefully raising it from the seabed. These plans will have contingencies built into them to ensure the minimal risk of any potential contamination during the salvage operation.

“The vessel owner is responsible for covering costs associated with the salvage through insurance.

“Across the weekend, NSW Maritime staff will be on site, carrying out regular beach inspections and will be available to chat with community members in the area,” he said.

Last Wednesday around 1.45pm an 18-metre commercial barge with a sewage truck on board capsized just offshore from Great Mackerel Beach.

The waste material on board the truck is contained and has not entered the water.

Around 150 metres of reflective containment boom has been installed around the site, which is subject to an exclusion zone and authorities are confident the site is contained.

NSW Maritime and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority will investigate the incident.

NSW Maritime is working closely with NSW Environment Protection Authority, SafeWork NSW, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Port Authority of NSW, Marine Rescue NSW, and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Under the NSW State Waters Marine Oil and Chemical Spill Contingency Plan, NSW Maritime has a number of roles and responsibilities in managing maritime incidents to minimise damage to environmental and socio-economic resources and reduce the time required for recovery.

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