A large amount of debris is washing on to Australian shores after a June accident that resulted in the loss of several containers from a Taiwanese-owned cargo shop. There was a swell that caused the ship to lose 83 full containers, and now Australian residents are facing a big mess. Boaters and other ships in the area have also had to face added risks in navigating the debris-strewn waters.
The YM Efficiency Loses Containers
The ship involved in the accident was the YM Efficiency, a Taiwanese container ship. It was making its way through the Tasman Sea off the coast of New South Wales, Australia. This area of the country is well known for its pristine beaches, which are now strewn with garbage from the incident.
The container ship was heading to Sydney from Taiwan when it hit rough waters in the Tasman Sea. A strong swell caused 83 containers to fall from the ship into the sea. Most were smashed open, along all the goods inside to spill out and into the water. Although they were struck by strong waves and swells, the entire crew of the ship suffered no injuries. The owner of the ship is responsible for collecting the containers that went overboard. The incident will be investigated to determine the cause of the spill and if it could or should have been prevented.
Only a full investigation will determine if the crew or the ship was at fault at all in the spilling of the containers into the ocean. Containers are supposed to be secured properly to prevent such accidents, but it may be possible that the swell was rough enough to dislodge even well-secured containers.
Shipping containers are large and heavy. Those on board the YM Efficiency were 40 feet in length and could hold up to 2,400 cubic feet of cargo. The risks and dangers of carrying containers that are not secured properly go well beyond simply losing them over the side. When cargo is not secured the right way, it can shift, roll, and drop, causing injuries and fatalities to crew members. Someone on the ship could be crushed by a moving container, even one that moves a small distance. For this reason, securing cargo is crucial.
Boaters in the area were immediately warned about cargo and containers in the water. In addition to the risk to crew on the container ship, anyone in the nearby waters could also be harmed or even killed by collisions with floating debris, especially the large containers.
In addition to safety risks, residents of New South Wales face a major cleanup and beach hazards. The coast is littered with diapers, surgical masks, car parts, plastic water bottles, and many other types of plastic material. Local volunteers are working to help clean their beaches.
The Taiwanese shipping company, Yang Ming, which is responsible for the ship, has apologized and stated that it will help with cleanup efforts. In the meantime the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services are spearheading the collection of garbage, with over 100 workers expected to take a week or more to get most of the debris.