Fishing Co-op to operate harbour slipway in 'caretaker mode'
THE Coffs Harbour Slipway will be reopened early next year as contamination testing is done prior to a Remediation Action Plan being finalised.
Kevin Humphries, Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water said the NSW Government is working with the Coffs Harbour Fisherman's Cooperative to minimise disruption to local business and fishermen while additional testing is being undertaken to determine the extent of heavy metal contamination at the site.
"Investigations undertaken by Crown Lands have shown the slipway site and the submerged sediments contain contaminants at levels exceeding the Australia and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) guidelines," Mr Humphries said.
"It is absolutely vital that the safest and most effective remediation option is undertaken and that is why I have asked NSW Trade and Investment Crown Lands to undertake additional site testing."
Crown Lands will now complete a risk assessment of each of the proposed remediation options and undertake trials to support development of a site Remediation Action Plan.
"Remediation works are required to de-contaminate the hardstand area and submerged land near the base of the slipway to ensure that the local environment is restored to an acceptable level for all users," Mr Humphries said.
Once additional testing is completed and the RAP finalised, Crown Lands will consult with the EPA to determine the most appropriate remediaton strategy.
Mr Humphries said Crown Lands and Roads and Maritime Services are working together on a reinvestment package to enable the slipway to be upgraded and fully operational next year.
Until that time, the Fisherman's Coop plans to operate the slipway in care taker mode, under former shipwright John Waite, if it can obtain an insurance policy for the site.
"We cannot get insurance on the slipway due to the existing contamination, but now we have got a waivering from the government that they will accept responsibility of the existing contamination problems," Mr Waite said.
Since the slipway site was closed in August, the fishing fleet has travelled to Yamba, crossing the Clarence River bar for boat maintenance.
"We have had divers under damaged boats to stop them from sinking and it's just fortunate that there hasn't been a bad accident it's as simple as that," Co-op chairman Russell Kerr said.
The Co-op signalled it would only operate an interim slipway service until the Government replaces infrastructure on the site and calls for tenders.