The houseboat which has sunk in the Richmond River just near the trawler harbour at Ballina.
The houseboat which has sunk in the Richmond River just near the trawler harbour at Ballina. Rebecca Lollback

Houseboat sinks after crash

A HOUSEBOAT has sunk in the Richmond River near the trawler harbour at Ballina triggering fears of environmental damage from leaking fuel and oil.

Richmond Local Area Command duty officer Inspector Bill McKenna said the houseboat crashed into a rock wall near the trawler harbour as it was heading west on the river only moments after pulling out of Fishery Creek at West Ballina, about 5pm last night.

An 80-year-old Ballina man, who was understood to live in the houseboat, and a woman were on board at the time. Neither was injured.

Insp McKenna said the man told police the houseboat had suffered a "mechanical failure" before crashing into the rock wall.

The houseboat suffered extensive damage in the crash and began taking on water. It sank to the bottom of the River, although much of the structure remained above the waterline.

Police, NSW Fire and Rescue and NSW Maritime were called to the scene and began working to secure the vessel so it did not sink any further, and the operation attracted plenty of attention from nearby residents.

A Fire and Rescue Hazmat unit was also on the scene with Insp McKenna saying they were worried about fuel and oil from the damaged houseboat leaking into the river.

It was understood a crane would have to be brought in at some point during the next few days to lift the houseboat out of the river.

The incident is being investigated by NSW Roads and Maritime Services.

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