A multi-million dollar operation to recover containers lost from the YM Efficiency off the Hunter coast will begin early next month despite the coronavirus outbreak sweeping the world.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority says it is all systems go for the recovery operation after the NSW Environmental Protection Agency signed off on its waste management plan.
In what was one of the key and final pieces of approval required for the operation, the plan details how goods recovered form the seafloor will be sorted, distributed and ultimately disposed of.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has locked in AVCON Projects to manage onshore waste activities.
The Newcastle Herald understands the containers and material recovered during the operation will be unloaded at a site in Carrington.
All items recovered will be sorted into three piles for either salvaging, recycling or disposal to a waste facility.
Ardent Oceania is the contractor conducting the mammoth recovery operation.
It will use a specialist vessel, the MV Pride, which is due in the Port of Newcastle on April 3.
The ship is on route from Changi in Singapore and its crew will likely be subject to a few days of isolation once it arrives.
The 130-metre long ship has 2000 square metres of deck space and 6000 tonnes of cargo carrying capacity.
While Ardent Oceania was initially contracted to recover 60 containers previously located through underwater inspections using remotely operated vehicles, AMSA has contracted a fresh search to attempt to locate 16 containers still deemed missing.
"We have recently signed a contract with Sub Sea Pty Ltd to conduct additional searching for the 16 remaining containers not found during the initial search," AMSA said in a statement.
"The search area has been defined based on an analysis of the ship's track and previous data collected through the subsea scanning.
"Work commenced this last week and will continue until the first week of April.
"This timing should allow AMSA to negotiate a possible contract extension to remove any newly identified containers during the current project."
AMSA is also set for a Federal Court battle with the insurer of Taiwanese shipping company Yang Ming, owner of the YM Efficiency, after it failed to make payments for the recovery operation.
It launched a proceeding last month after the Federal Court Admiralty Marshall arrested the YM Efficiency's sister ship, the YM Eternity, at Port Botany on February 9.
The arrest came after the insurers failed to pay a $3 million invoice for the operation due on January 18.
The YM Efficiency lost 81 containers in heavy seas on June 1, 2018. Five containers have already been recovered.