Discarded beacon signals rubbish emergency

The Westpac Life Saver rescue helicopter was called to the Surf Beach Waste Management Facility on Tuesday after an inappropriately discarded distress beacon activated within the tip face.

Tip staff had to dig through tonnes of rubbish at the site to find and disarm the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), which would have continuously transmitted an emergency signal for 48 hours.

According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, thousands of dollars are spent every year in Australia searching for inadvertently activated beacons in rubbish dumps, tying up emergency personnel in the process.

Eurobodalla Council’s waste operations coordinator Evan Brooks said Tuesday’s incident was a timely reminder for residents to dispose of unwanted emergency beacons correctly.

“Unwanted distress beacons should never be put into household bins,” he said.

“Not only can they activate and waste valuable emergency resources, but the beacon batteries are also hazardous and should be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way.”

NSW Maritime holds regular collection events in Eurobodalla for expired flares, where unwanted emergency beacons can also be safety disposed of free of charge. The next collection is likely to be held in November.

If residents can’t attend a collection event, batteries should be disconnected in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and disposed of at Council’s waste facilities for free.

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