CHARGED: Alleged waste was dumped off Lady Musgrave Island.
CHARGED: Alleged waste was dumped off Lady Musgrave Island. Submitted

No-show on dumping claims

THE embattled owners of Lady Musgrave Cruises, the tour company behind the stricken Spirit of 1770 vessel which burst into flames with 46 passengers on board in May, is in more hot water.

Court documents reveal Panforta Pty Ltd, trading as Lady Musgrave Cruises and owner of the 20m Lady Musgrave Pontoon, is accused of letting garbage from the pontoon escape into the waters off Lady Musgrave Island on or about April 7 this year, in breach of the Transport Operations (Marine Pollution) Act 1995.

The complaint alleges that waste material consisting of "rust flakes, timber waste, cutting disk and cut of bolts” was "allowed to escape from the ship” within three nautical miles of Lady Musgrave Island.

The matter of the complaint came to the attention of staff from the Department of Transport and Main Roads in August.

The matter was briefly mentioned in the Bundaberg Magistrates Court on Friday, however it was adjourned when no one turned up to represent Panforta Pty Ltd.

Magistrate Belinda Merrin noted a summons had been sent to the business address at Captain Cook Dr, Agnes Water.

Police prosecutor Senior Constable Andrew Blunt, acting on behalf of Transport Main Roads, considered asking for the matter to be dealt with in the absence of the island cruise company, but said the fines were "quite sizeable”.

The maximum penalty is $426,650.

The matter was adjourned until January, with a notice sent to Panforta.

Lady Musgrave Cruises remains out of action since its flagship vessel, the Spirit of 1770, caught fire while retuning from a day tour to Lady Musgrave Island on May 11.

All 42 day-trippers and four staff members had to abandon the ship and were rescued from life rafts after a fire broke out in the engine.

The incidents are not isolated; the tour company has been plagued by problems in recent years.

On January 10 last year, 135 passengers were forced to make an emergency exit from the Spirit of 1770 after it ran aground on the rocks at the mouth of Round Hill Creek on its way back to the marina.

On October 24, 2014 almost 150 tourists were turned away after the captain and crew refused to take the ship out for the day over a disagreement between crew and management which saw the skipper sacked.