Judge orders tough new rules for scuttling
Ellie Harvey and Andrew WestSeptember 16, 2010
Delays ... the HMAS Adelaide berthed at White Bay. Photo: Kate Geraghty
THE decommissioned warship HMAS Adelaide will be scuttled off the central coast, after a federal judge approved the project but imposed stringent new conditions.
Justice Garry Downes, president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, said the Keneally government would have to remove all remaining wiring and lead paint before sinking the ship.
His decision yesterday ended a legal battle of almost six months, which has cost the state government close to $1 million because of the delay. The scuttling was originally scheduled for March 27.
''It has cost us a significant amount of money,'' the Minister for Lands, Tony Kelly, said yesterday. ''This delay … may well have cost close to $1 million, and we obviously now [have] to assess what the additional work to be done is.
''[The extra work] is insignificant really compared with the cost that we have borne so far.''
Opponents of the scuttling declared the decision a win because it forced the government to cleanse the vessel of all remaining material that may contain toxins.
''It's obviously not all we wanted,'' said Ben Smith, of the No Ship Action Group.
''But the government - which kept telling us the Adelaide was as clean as a whistle when it obviously wasn't - will have to go back and clean all remaining contaminated material.''
Mr Smith, who is a qualified oceanographer, said opponents and environmentalists were also concerned about the effect the sunken vessel may have on tidal flows in Avoca Bay.
The decision specified the ship be stripped of all items that might contain polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and also of all canvas and insulation. The government will also have to have remove all red-lead paint.
The project manager for the scuttling, Craig Abbs, said he could not yet estimate the cost of meeting these conditions. The original budget of $5.8 million has been exceeded.