THE Federal Court Admiralty Marshall has arrested the Liberian-flagged vessel YM Eternity (IMO 9353280) at Port Botany in relation to an unpaid “pollution debt” from its sister ship YM Efficiency.

YM Efficiency famously lost 81 shipping containers off the coast of Newcastle in June 2018.

The recovery effort remains ongoing and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority says the debt could reach as high as $20m.

According to AMSA, on Sunday morning the Federal Court Admiralty Marshall arrested the YM Eternity at Port Botany after AMSA petitioned the court to recover the outstanding debt.

Both YM Eternity and YM Efficiency are owned by a subsidiary of Taiwanese shipping company, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp. 

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AMSA says Yang Ming has refused to pay for the clean-up of the remaining pollution including the containers and their contents which are on the seafloor off Newcastle.

Some 60 containers have been identified, five containers have been recovered while a further 16 remain missing.

In December 2019, AMSA signed a contract with Ardent Oceania, to begin the clean-up operation for those 60 containers.

The contract is valued at $15m.

Work begins in March and is expected to be completed within a month.

AMSA chief executive Mick Kinley said the arrest of YM Eternity showed AMSA would not allow international shipping companies to pollute our waters without consequence.

“If you pollute our waters and refuse to pay the price of cleaning up that pollution, we will hold you accountable. Our ocean won’t pay the price of Yang Ming’s pollution – Yang Ming will,” Mr Kinley said.

According to AMSA, the expected cost to find and clean-up the remaining missing 16 containers is up to a further $5m, bringing Yang Ming’s debt to $20m. The YM Eternity was previously detained by AMSA on 12 July 2019 in Sydney for failure to safely stow and secure cargo.

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