Removal of 500 dumped shopping trolleys begins at regional SA wharf

dumped shopping trolley removal

An errant shopping trolley can ruin a perfect parking spot or even dent your car, but for one council, hundreds of shopping trolleys near its wharf have posed a much bigger, and more expensive problem.

Key points:

  • Port Augusta City Council issued a warning about jumping off the wharf last month
  • The council and major supermarkets footed the bill for the trolley removal
  • Divers connected trolleys underwater before a crane lifted them out
  • The Port Augusta City Council in South Australia’s north has begun removing 500 trolleys from waters near its wharf in the
  • Upper Spencer Gulf this week, amid long-standing concerns over community safety.

It issued a notice last month warning locals not to jump from the wharf into the water as they risked “serious injury”.

The project cost $15,000 with the bill covered by the council and the city’s major supermarket chains Woolworths, Coles and Big W.

shopping trolleys dumped in water

Under South Australian law, areas below the high-tide mark belong to the State Government.

But since the trolleys belonged to the retailers, the council said they were expected to pay for much of the cost of the removal.

The significance of the issue was identified recently, when divers inspected the water at the council’s request.

Removing the trolleys

The removal involved divers moving the trolleys into several piles on the sea floor alongside the wharf.

shopping carts dumped

Divers then connected the trolleys in groups underwater, before a crane was used to retrieve them.

The removal was expected to take place earlier, but a mechanical issue with the crane forced it to be delayed.

Some trolleys were mostly clean, others were covered in barnacles and seaweed, indicating the dumping had been a problem for some time.

Once removed, the trolleys were pressure-cleaned of barnacles in preparation for recycling.

remove dumped shopping trolleys

Problem ‘too serious to ignore’

Port Augusta City Council’s director of city services Melissa Kretchmer said concerns over public safety forced the council to act.

“There was a hazard there to the community [members] should they jump off the wharf, even though they’re not supposed to,” Ms Kretschmer said.

“We know it happens, it’s a really big risk to the community, so public safety was our primary concern.”

Before the removal, some piles had reached six metres in height, with trolleys able to be seen just beneath the surface.

remove dumped shopping carts

She said a working group had been formed with local supermarkets to come up with a plan to address the issue.

“We’ve also added more CCTV to the area to try to prevent it happening,” she said.

A swimming hazard

Port Augusta Masters Swimming Club president Anne Baker said there were many who would be happy the issue was being rectified.

“I’m very pleased they’re removed, especially for the safety of those who do swim there and for the children who enjoy the beach,” she said.

The club used to hold an open water swim event where competitors would swim past the wharf and over the trolleys.

trolleys being dumped

“About four years ago we voiced our concern [to the council] … at low tide we could see the trolleys and if you went upright in the water you would’ve hit them.”

She said a system that improves trolley protection, such as a returnable coin or token, would help prevent the issue happening again in the future.

“To those pushing the trolleys off, please consider that other people use that waterway … just think of the safety issue.”

Port Augusta’s last remaining jetty closed four years ago because it was structurally unsound.

The city is one of the hottest in South Australia and one of the furthest north with sea access.

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