Marine pollution

The issue I raise is for the attention of the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, who I note is at the table, and the action I seek is for the minister to investigate and take action to stop the all-too-common dumping of contaminated water from shipping vessels that are illegally cleaned within the anchorage line within Port Phillip Bay.

Last week this was yet again brought to my attention by Australian representatives of the International Transport Workers Federation. These representatives informed me of a serious environmental breach at Altona Beach in Port Phillip Bay by a vessel called the MV Blue Eternity, sailing under a Panamanian flag.

It has been reported to me that the vessel had been carrying out cleaning of hatches in inner anchorage — within the 1-kilometre boundary of the anchorage line — off either Altona or Williamstown beaches on 28 and 29 March. I also understand that the vessel had failed a survey undertaken by customs staff in relation to compliance with regulations relating to the ability to carry wheat or grain because of residue of coal dust and elements in the hull of the ship.

If these allegations are correct, it is quite possible that upon the cleaning of this vessel within the inner anchorage line this residue would have washed up on either the Williamstown or Altona foreshore last weekend. This is yet again another foreign vessel suspected of flouting our laws and suspected of dumping contaminated waste off the shores of our beautiful beaches, which could have some long-term effects.

I have personally seen some water samples taken from both Williamstown and Altona beaches on Saturday, and the water, particularly from Altona, has a strong presence of black particles which could be coal dust. I make the offer to the minister to provide these photos as evidence, and I also put on the record that I have written to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to raise these concerns and the immediate need for water sampling, particularly to trace coal contaminants off Altona Beach in the last week.

This is not the first time I have raised a matter such as this. In the middle of last year I raised another issue relating to the illegal cleaning of a foreign ship in a very similar spot. That was the Sat Nunki, a Singaporean ship owned by a Greek company, which did a very similar thing at a similar spot, and the matter was not adequately followed up by the Minister for Ports, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change or the EPA. I ask that this time this matter be investigated and reported back on as a matter of urgency.