Drum causes emergency response

A BLUE drum labelled as dangerous goods which washed up on Darkum Beach on Friday caused a false alarm for the Woolgoolga Fire Brigade on Friday morning.

The 240 litre drum, reported at 11.29am on Friday, proved to have burst open and be empty.

It was identified as one used by oyster growers in the Kalang and Bellinger rivers, but not before a Woolgoolga fire truck, five fire fighters and the Coffs Harbour Hazmat support unit attended the scene.

Woolgoolga fire station commander Ray Webb said it was the fifth 'dangerous goods' drum that had washed up on the Coffs Coast's Northern Beaches since the flood, with Mullawarra and Darkum Beach the favoured locations for the drums to come ashore.

Suspicious drums have to be manhandled by fire fighters on to the lid of a special Hazmat drum, and then the base of the drum has to be placed on top to enclose the dangerous material.

The Hazmat drum is then handed over to Coffs Harbour City Council staff for testing and disposal.

The process takes hours, especially if drums are found on isolated beaches, while the firefighters, who have to wear fully encapsulated suits, have to be monitored for hydration during the recovery.

Mr Webb said he had not heard what the other four drums contained.

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