North Fremantle: signs warn swimmers to move on at Sandtracks and Port beaches

Warning signs are not enough say daily beach users (l-r) Paul Martin, Brian Jakovich, Paul Gebbedy, Theo Koning and Myra Stanbury. Picture Jon Bassett
Warning signs are not enough say daily beach users (l-r) Paul Martin, Brian Jakovich, Paul Gebbedy, Theo Koning and Myra Stanbury. Picture Jon Bassett

SWIMMERS are being told to dip elsewhere because of dangerous debris including asbestos at Sandtracks and Port beaches next to Fremantle Port in North Fremantle.

“For your safety, swimming at an alternate beach is recommended,” five-day-old Fremantle Council signs on the beaches and at nearby car parks say.

This morning on the increasingly narrow beaches, new limestone rocks rolled in the surf break. and rubble, buried hardstand and pipes could be seen at man-made dunes next to a 1960s fuel depot for port trucks.

Other rubble, asbestos, tile shards and rocks eroded at Sandtracks have moved north along Port to Leighton beaches since January, before Community News exposed last month how the Fremantle Port Authority (FPA) agreed in 1995 to remove debris from its land reclamation for nearby Rous Head container yards.

However, that requirement was missing from a previous State government’s approval for the reclamation in 2009.

The erosed fuel depot pipes are another danger to beach users says (l-r) Paul Gabbedy and Paul Martin. Picture: Jon Bassett.

Daily beach users still want the beaches and dunes cleaned, despite being told by council staff a meeting of managers had concluded the work would be uneconomic.

“Beachgoers, who actually read the signs or have them pointed out are annoyed, disappointed and confused that City of Fremantle are telling them they shouldn’t be here at the beach they have been coming to all of their lives,” campaigner Peter McLarty said.

While the limestone’s origin is contested, the man-made dunes have been the sites of dumping and demolished industry since the late 1800s.

The erosed fuel depot pipes are another danger to beach users says (l-r) Paul Gabbedy and Paul Martin. Picture: Jon Bassett.

Mr McLarty said all the debris had to be removed before it went into the ocean and reappeared elsewhere later.

An FPA spokeswoman said it and the council had agreed to share the cost of immediate beach inspections, removal of rubble and building debris and anything with asbestos.

Paul Gabbedy shows where old hardstand is now exposed after being buried in the dunes.

“Meanwhile, coastal engineering consultants have been engaged by Fremantle Ports to undertake a beach survey and inspection from the Rous Head seawall up to Leighton Beach to capture the current state of the beach,” the spokeswoman said.

She said previous monthly monitoring would continue, in addition to a long-term hydrographic survey of seasonal changes to the beaches.

The council is working with State health, planning and environment departments on a potential long-term solution.