Carrickalinga wave energy generator to stay in place from April 2015

A tussle continues over who is responsible for the removal of a wave energy convertor stranded at Carrickalinga. Pic: Fleurieu Multimedia.
A tussle continues over who is responsible for the removal of a wave energy convertor stranded at Carrickalinga. Pic: Fleurieu Multimedia.

Carrickalinga's coastal views will feature a 3500-tonne cement structure for the foreseeable future, as a tussle continues over who is responsible for its removal.

The wave energy convertor has been stranded about 1.4 kilometres off Carrickalinga Beach for more than a year. The convertor is owned by Oceanlinx Ltd, which went into receivership after the structure sank in early March 2014.

A Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) spokesperson said Oceanlinx - and ultimately its liquidator - is responsible for the structure's removal.

However, the state government may step in if no progress is made on the structure's removal, but has not set a date for when this might occur.

"As Oceanlinx has gone into liquidation, the liquidators are in the process of winding up Oceanlinx," the spokesperson said.

"If the liquidators are not able to remove the wave generator, the SA government may do so and make a claim as creditor."

The DPTI spokesperson said removal of the structure will not begin "until all options are canvassed and the most appropriate method of removal is determined".

Options on the table include using the structure as an artificial reef, sinking it in deeper water or removing it entirely.

District Council of Yankalilla chief executive officer Adrian Skull said council would have liked the structure to be removed by now, but recognised the issues surrounding it.

"Council, like our residents, would have preferred that a satisfactory solution to the situation could have been achieved by now," Mr Skull said.

"Council is aware that there is complex legal, insurance and financial matters that the state government is dealing with to try and resolve the matter."

State government representatives updated community members and council representatives at a public meeting in Normanville last Wednesday, April 1.

The DPTI; Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources; Primary Industries and Regions South Australia; the Environment Protection Authority and council representatives were all present.

The community was updated on the liquidation process, safety measures which have been put in place and DPTI's next steps to remove the structure.

Council and the community were also advised that DPTI has sought expressions of interest from salvage operators, proposing options to the resolve the matter.

"It was proposed that DPTI work with council to seek community input on the various solutions, to see if a suitable environmental solution could be achieved, together with minimising the cost to the taxpayer," Mr Skull said.

Warnings that the structure posed a significant safety risk to the public triggered a restricted area to be set up around it in September 2014.

The structure, designed to convert wave energy, could create a vortex where snorkellers, divers, swimmers and kayakers could be dragged beneath the surface in particular conditions.

Fines of $1250 were announced for unauthorised vessels and people who entered the 200 x 200 metre restricted area.

DPTI acknowledged community concern about the structure, and said it is aware of a similar situation in Port Kembla, New South Wales.

There, a similar Oceanlinx wave energy convertor is still waiting on removal after being abandoned eight years ago.

However, DPTI would not spell out exactly how it will have Carrickalinga's generator removed faster than Port Kembla's.

"DPTI cannot provide any timeline for the removal of the wave generator at Carrickalinga, as all options must be considered and a safe, environmentally friendly method of removal has been determined," the spokesperson said.