Clean up effort in coastal Westland
Following last week’s significant rainfall event, the legacy landfill site at Fox River has been severely eroded by the river, with the river cutting through approximately 40m of bush, causing rubbish to be taken downstream and north through the northern drift at sea. Litter has been observed along approximately 20km of riverbed and from the Fox River mouth as far north as Okarito as of Saturday.
This is a particularly isolated part of the West Coast with limited access and cellphone coverage. The loss of the Waiho Bridge provides additional logistical issues to be managed.
Westland District Council is the lead agency and is receiving assistance from the West Coast Regional Council. Contractors have been engaged to undertake work on site to prevent further rubbish being exposed and taken downstream. This is the first stage of remedial work and will require further long term works to protect the closed landfill from future erosion. Some equipment for the works is already on site with larger equipment being sourced to provide a permanent solution.
In addition to this Council is working with the Regional Council, Department of Conservation and other agencies to formulate a plan to clean up the area. This is a significant issue, and support from other parts of New Zealand is being sought.
Department of Conservation staff have been assisting Westland District Council with assessing the spread of rubbish and collection, including using helicopters to get to more inaccessible sites.
Westland District Council would like to acknowledge the volunteer effort that is underway along the coast in South Westland. The effort is hugely appreciated. Westland District Council will not be charging dumping fees for rubbish brought from the beaches. Westland Milk Products has offered the use of handled fadges, which will be located at Okarito, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef for the rubbish to be collected in and then removed to the Transfer Station.
If you would like further information about volunteering a Facebook page has been set up: https://www.facebook.com/southwestlandcoastalcleanup/