Quite the clean-up operation is underway off the coast of New South Wales, Australia, after 83 shipping containers fell from a cargo ship. The Libyan-registered ship, called the YM Efficiency, was en route to Sydney from Taiwan on Thursday when rough seas caused a myriad of debris, including diapers, sanitary products, and car parts to spill into the ocean.
While the debris is expected to wash up on beaches for the next several months, the greater fear is for nearby marine life. Port Stephens EcoNetwork’s Nigel Dique told the Australian Associated Press that “there were broken clocks, bits of structural plastic material, lots of jars and food items packaged in plastic […] certainly turtles and whales and large marine creatures think they are food and swallow the stuff.” Whales, turtles, sharks, seabirds, among other marine animals, are thought to be at risk.
Many locals and volunteers in the communities affected by the spill have taken a proactive approach, rallying to clean up their beaches that are covered in plastic debris.
Although they were asked not to get involved in the clean-up by Roads and Maritime Services Director Angus Mitchell, locals are taking matters into their own hands because they believe the government won’t act soon enough. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the state’s Environment Protection Agency, however, are working to ensure all hazardous material is cleaned up.