Update 3 – 4 April 2019: Flow of rubbish into river stopped
Rubbish is no longer flowing into the Fox River from the closed Fox Glacier Township Landfill after contractors working there successfully diverted the river today. This has stopped the flow of rubbish into the river. The next step is to install rock protection to the area. This work provides a short term solution while a longer term plan to secure the site is put in place.
The breach of the landfill occurred during the huge storm event of the 26th and 27th of March, which also destroyed the Waiho Bridge.
Rubbish flowing down the river has been sighted on the coast as far north as Okarito, and south to Martins Bay in Fiordland.
Flights to determine the extent of the spread of the rubbish will be undertaken over the next couple of days. People should contact the council on email@example.com if they have information about rubbish spreading further than this area.
A massive clean-up effort is currently underway. As well as staff from the Council, the volunteer group South Westland Coastal Clean-up is coordinating members of the community and people from outside the area who want to assist with the work to remove rubbish from South Westland beaches. The Student Army Volunteers are also working with this group to provide people to assist with the clean-up.
People who want to assist with the clean-up can find out information on South Westland Coastal Clean up through Facebook https://www.facebook.com/southwestlandcoastalcleanup/. Volunteers are asked to email directly to coordinator Mike Bilodeau firstname.lastname@example.org. They should provide information about their skills, and when they are available to help.
Volunteers will need to ensure they bring adequate food and suitable clothing and footwear as well as sunscreen and insect repellent. The Council are working with South Westland Coastal Clean-up to ensure the health and safety of people working on the clean-up is well managed.
Westland District Council is committed to bringing the local rivers and beaches back to good health. The Council is working with the Regional Council, Department of Conservation and other agencies to formulate a plan to remove the rubbish from the environment. This is a significant issue and support from other parts of New Zealand is being sought.
Staff from West Coast Regional Council and DOC are helping with the response, and staff who worked on managing the response to the Rena Disaster have flown in from the Bay of Plenty council to assist.
The Council has contracted EnviroNZ to manage the clean-up of the Fox River Bed. This work has been identified as best managed by expert agencies. Currently, teams from EnviroNZ, DOC and Franz Glacier Guides are working on this clean-up.
As well as volunteers assisting with the clean-up, the local business community has put their weight in behind the clean-up, with staff time, accommodation and food being provided for volunteers and clean-up teams.
Media enquiries to:
Emma Rae, Strategy and Communications Advisor