Boats, jet skis among tons of flood debris pulled from the Brisbane River – and there’s more to come

The Brisbane River is still too dangerous for recreational users, two weeks after the city flooded, with large amounts of debris still located and recovered above and below the surface.

Kell Dillon, managing director of Martime Safety Queensland (MSQ), said workers were pulling pontoons, jet skis, yachts and trees from the water, among other debris.

“We’re down to about 1,100 tonnes of material cleared from the surface of the river, but we’re finding a lot on the bottom. We’ve had 160 unknown objects from Hamilton Reach to port,” he said.

“A lot of things still have to come out of the river. Some are more difficult than others. … Getting everything out of the bottom is quite a difficult task.”

The CityCat Beenung-Urrung sank in the Brisbane River after being hit by a barge during floods last week.(Provided: Cr Ryan Murphy)

Port blocked to larger ships

Treasurer Cameron Dick said the Port of Brisbane, Queensland’s largest port, which facilitates $50 billion worth of trade each year, is not yet operating at full capacity as debris prevents larger ships to enter the port.

“Some of the biggest container ships, 300 meters or more in length, still cannot access the port,” Mr Dick said.

“We usually have about 20 ship movements a day, we’ve already gone back to 17 a day and the port is operating 24 hours a day.”

Sixty aids to navigation – buoys and beacons – were also damaged by the floods and are being repaired and replaced, he added.

Debris from the floods was cleared from Moreton Bay this week.
Workers removed boats, jet skis and pontoons from the Brisbane River during flood relief efforts.(Provided: Marine Parks)

Diving and hydrographic survey teams from the Royal Australian Navy have joined cleanup teams from MSQ and the Port of Brisbane, targeting the debris that poses the greatest risk to ships and small craft.

Speaking from HMAS Moreton on the Brisbane River, Lieutenant Commander Michael Kerrisk said HMAS Shepparton, usually based in Cairns, monitored the river water at Moreton Island, while HMAS Yarra operated from Moreton Bay at Caloundra Fairway.

“We also have a geospatial team deployable here and they are surveying the river from St Lucia to Hamilton at the request of the port, and following that Australian Snorkeling Team divers are working on the final pieces. of what is and what is not an obstacle and a danger for the reopening of the river,” he said.

“They have been given a list of 49 different dive tasks…and that looks at the condition of all ferry terminal pylons and bridge structures and other hazards, and markers that are quite damaged and no longer standing. which ensure safe navigation through the Port of Brisbane.”

Major General David Thomae said a US Navy supply ship would join the ADF crews on Monday.

“The United States Navy very graciously offered up to 100 people from this ship to support us,” he said.

“We will integrate them into our normal operations across Brisbane, so you will see them on the streets as you see the rest of the Australian Defense Force.”

An aerial view of flood debris at a ferry terminal on the Brisbane River.
Debris from the flooded river collected at the Hawthorne Ferry Terminal.(Aerial imagery by Nearmap)

Warning for boaters

While some restrictions have been eased for boat owners to adjust mooring lines, recreational users are advised to stay out of the water.

“It’s just too dangerous for recreational purposes,” said MSQ’s Mr Dillon.

“What we don’t need is disaster tourism – people taking selfies with damaged equipment in the background

“There’s still a lot of debris… the currents are still high, the water is very, very dirty and people in the water are preventing our contractors and staff from doing their jobs and cleaning up the river.”

On land, Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said debris had been cleared from 1,100 streets in the city.

“Our number one priority was to get these things off the sidewalk as quickly as possible because people were coming out of their homes and businesses looking at these piles and it was their lives in front of them,” he said.

“We couldn’t have done this without the support of the ADF.”

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Earnest A. Martinez