Hazardous drums on beaches

LOCAL firefighters are begging residents to leave drums found along the beach well alone after a hazardous materials scare at Mullawarra Beach this week.

Woolgoolga firefighters, Hazmat crews from Coffs Harbour and paramedics were called to Arrawarra Beach R about 7.10pm Monday after reports of a suspicious drum in the car park at the beach.

"It turned out to be a drum that had gone overboard from a ship a very long time ago," station commander Ray Webb said.

The 25 litre drum, property of the Wilhelmsen Ship Service in the Netherlands, was filled with the chemical Rocor NB Liquid - a nitrate/borate based compound used as a cooling inhibitor on ships.

"It is toxic is swallowed and can cause severe irritations to the skin. It's also highly toxic to waterways," Mr Webb said.

Authorities used protective equipment to place the drum into a sealed Hazmat bin, which was collected by a Coffs Harbour City Council Environment Protection officer for disposal.

Mr Webb said this was an important reminder for people to leave drums, whether floating in the ocean or washed up on the beach, well alone and contact authorities.

"The person who picked it up and carried it to the carpark thought it was empty but it was indeed full. Luckily, even though it was encrusted with barnacles, it was still in tact. If they had spilt any on their hands or got any on them they would end up with severe exposure and serious irritations.

"We do have these things happen, particularly at Mullawarra Beach because of the current.

"When boats go down, you can find anything, anywhere.

"People need to be extremely careful and report anything to the local authorities before touching or going near it."

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