The company behind the decommissioned wave power generator rusting off the coast of Port Kembla has gone into receivership, creating more doubts about when the structure will be removed.
Investment company KordaMentha was appointed as receiver for Oceanlinx after it went bankrupt, owing its secured creditors $7 million and investors a further $3 million.
The company, formed more than 15 years ago by University of Wollongong graduate Tom Denniss, had built a number of prototypes of wave energy units, including three at Port Kembla.
The "Mark 1" generator was installed in 2006, but was decommissioned in 2009.
Since then, it has been slowly falling apart in shallow waters opposite the coal loader, despite the company making various promises to remove it.
In its latest attempt, Oceanlinx last year contracted Illawarra company Blue Sky Services to remove the wave generator but work was held up by poor weather and equipment arrival delays.
On Wednesday, Blue Sky director Jeremy Clarke told the Illawarra Mercury he was waiting on the outcome of a creditors' vote on the company's future, scheduled for Wednesday night, before finding out whether further removal works would go ahead.
"It's not absolutely clear at the moment that the receivers will shut the company down fully," he said.
Receiver Rahul Goyal said it was too early to outline the receivership strategy, but the priority was to work with the South Australian and NSW governments to alleviate any safety concerns.
A spokeswoman for Roads and Maritime Services, which has jurisdiction over the Illawarra generator, said the government would continue to pursue options to ensure the structure's removal.
Before going into receivership, Oceanlinx had been in the process of installing a wave energy converter off the South Australian coast.
However, airbags supporting the prototype were seriously damaged while it was being towed from Port Adelaide in March.
This caused delays in funding which was dependent on meeting installation deadlines, Mr Goyal said.
Mr Clarke said these same airbags were due to be used to float and remove the Port Kembla generator, and there could be further delays even if the company did come out of receivership.
Timeline of events
December 2006: The ‘‘Mark 1’’ wave power generator installed by Oceanlinx in waters off the Port Kembla coal loader.
June 2009: Oceanlinx claims the wave generator ‘‘achieved the milestone of 500 operational hours’’.
Late 2009: The wave generator was decommissioned as Oceanlinx plans to focus attention on the Southern Ocean.
December 2011: Port Kembla-based demolition and recycling firm the Kilpatrick Group is engaged to remove the wave generator.
July 2012: Oceanlinx chief executive Ali Baghaei says the Kilpatrick Group had been replaced by a new contractor and promises the plant’s removal within months.
March 2013: Roads and Maritime Services announces plans to take Oceanlinx to court over its failure to remove the generator. The action is dropped once Oceanlinx agrees to co-operate.
July 2013: Company chairman Tibor Vertes says Oceanlinx would try to remove the generator by the end of the year.
Late 2013: Illawarra-based contractor Blue Sky Services is appointed to remove the wave generator.
April 2014: Oceanlinx goes into receivership.