Hazmat operation at Newcastle Beach after mysterious container marked ‘acid’ washes ashore

A popular Newcastle beach was evacuated on Sunday after a container thought to be filled with industrial acid washed ashore.

Emergency services were notified of a large drum labelled “hydrochloric acid” at Newcastle Beach about lunchtime on Sunday, Fire and Rescue NSW said in a statement.

Hazmat crews quickly responded to the call and said a bulk container with a Dangerous Goods label “was found along the water’s edge”.

“Labelling displayed the contents to be hydrochloric acid.”

Hydrochloric acid is a strong and corrosive acid used in industrial steel processing and the construction industry, as well as in household cleaners and pool maintenance.

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“Crews working in chemical splash-suits and breathing apparatus used a specialist air driven pump to decant the contents of the (bulk container) into hazmat drums,” Fire and Rescue NSW said.

On inspection, rescuers determined the contents were not hydrochloric acid – and were deemed an “unknown hydrocarbon, possibly waste oil”.

The drums were later taken from the beach to a collection depot by the City of Newcastle.

A similar incident occurred at Turimetta Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches last week.

Fire and Rescue NSW offered some advice from Forestville Fire Station 51:

“If you find anything unusual washed up on a beach, stay away from it and report it. The Roads and Maritime Service is responsible for much of the NSW coastline,” it said.

“They are assisted by Councils, EPA, FRNSW, Surf Life Saving, SES and other agencies working hard together to keep our beaches safe.”

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