Hervey Bay Water Police Senior Constable Shannon Gray with an EPIRB.
Hervey Bay Water Police Senior Constable Shannon Gray with an EPIRB. Alistair Brightman

A $10,000 game of hide and seek is a load of rubbish

A THREE-hour search sparked by a discarded beacon cost emergency services more than $10,000 and wasted hours - after they found the signal coming from the Nikenbah dump.

Emergency services have warned the incident this week was not isolated, as repeated cases cost emergency services thousands of dollars a year.

An Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is a personal tracking device, usually carried by boaties when they head out to open water.

When activated in an emergency, it transmits a signal that is detectable by satellites which reports their position to rescue authorities.

However an expired EPIRB can be a nightmare for emergency services - a search and rescue using aircraft costs upwards of $3000 an hour.

In Monday's incident the Australian Maritime Safety Authority received reports about a beacon activation in the area.

An RACQ CareFlight helicopter was scrambled to attempt to locate the signal.

It was discovered in the area of the Nikenbah tip on Monday night.

On Tuesday morning search and rescue teams used hand-held equipment to isolate the signal location and a second aircraft was used. The operation cost more than $10,000.

Hervey Bay Water Police Sergeant Paul Bacon said the signal was lost - due to the batteries running out or it being crushed along with other rubbish at the tip.

Sgt Bacon said the unwanted EPIRB wasn't properly deactivated.

"It's likely been disposed of through the rubbish and therefore was not made inactive," he said.

Hervey Bay police Senior Constable Shannon Gray said it was important they're not thrown in the rubbish because they can activate by accident.

"Every now and then - the switches can be bumped if they're in the trash," he said.

However Snr Const Gray said sometimes they were activated on purpose.

Police say people can dispose of them correctly by dropping them into Battery World free of charge.

Searching

  • Search and rescuers must locate an activated EPIRB signal
  • An aircraft costs upwards of $3000 an hour
  • Queensland has the highest number of inadvertent activations with 521 false activations during 2012-13 financial year


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