Removal of a wrecked wave energy generator stranded off a popular South Australian seaside holiday town has been delayed yet again, the local ratepayers group has said, six years after the project was sunk.
- Oceanlinx generator sank off Carrickalinga in 2014
- Works to remove structure delayed with court proceedings
- Plans to turn it into an artificial reef with marine life benefit delayed
The 3,000-tonne structure was being towed from Port Adelaide to Port MacDonnell in March 2014 when it started listing due to damaged air bags.
An effort was made to tow it to shallow water but the concrete and reinforced steel structure was jettisoned about 1.5 kilometres off the popular holiday destination of Carrickalinga.
Carrickalinga Ratepayers’ Association president Kim Baker said the Government had committed to undertaking its partial removal in October and November.
“We’ve been on their case about whether that’s going to be happening,” Mr Baker told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“We were only told a couple of weeks ago that it will now be removed in March next year, apparently, or somewhere between January and March in fact.”
Oceanlinx in receivership
Some four years previous, a different Oceanlinx generator sank offshore at Port Kembla, New South Wales, when it broke free from its pylons during rough seas.
The company went into receivership shortly after its second generator was sunk off Carrickalinga.
Mr Baker questioned why insurance money was not used to clean up the mess.
Partial removal delayed
The newly elected Liberal Government in 2018 announced plans to turn the wreck into an artificial reef by removing the visible top section and allowing the submerged portion to become an artificial reef.
Former SA Transport minister Stephan Knoll said in April that those works had been delayed because a survey undertaken by divers on the structure found it “not as the drawings suggested it was”.
He also said autumn and winter weather conditions would make it too difficult for divers to conduct the work.
Current Transport Minister Corey Wingard today confirmed the works would take place early next year for similar reasons.
“The conditions would be far more comfortable obviously for people out there on the water, so that’s when those works are planned,” he said.
Mr Wingard could not immediately answer questions about the insurance money but said the diver survey had found the accidental artificial reef to have been quite “beneficial for the region”.
“The increased marine life around the structure and sea grasses and vegetation have occurred around that structure which have been very beneficial environmentally I’m told,” Mr Wingard said.
A ‘danger’ to boats
But Mr Baker said there was a 100-metre exclusion zone around the structure, with fines of $1,250 applicable for anybody who entered it.
“It’s not designed to be a reef and it won’t be an effective reef,” he said.
Mr Baker said that once the works to remove the top section were complete, which represented about 12 per cent of the structure, it would sit one metre below the surface and be “quite dangerous for marine navigation and craft going through the area”.
“They’re going to put a beacon on top of it, and beacons are called, in their own words, a danger marker,” Mr Baker said.