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Volunteer effort “massive”

A massive effort from volunteers over the weekend of 6-7 April has cleared significant amounts of rubbish from the area just north and south of the Fox River in South Westland.

“The initial clean-up of this area is now almost complete,” says Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith. “It’s a good start, however we’ve still got a big job ahead of us”.

While there is still a lot of work to, Bruce Smith says the scale of the rubbish dispersal from the flooded Fox River site is smaller than originally reported.

“Initial reports suggested rubbish from the Fox River Landfill was very widespread. However, aerial surveys during the last couple of days have confirmed the area affected is confined to about 50km of coastline, from approximately 10km south of the Fox River northward.”

The Mayor said reports of rubbish on Fiordland beaches have been investigated and confirmed as not from the old Fox River landfill. “It is from a different source,” he said.

Westland District Council is being supported in the clean-up, with a specialist incident team from Maritime New Zealand now coordinating the response. There is also continued support from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Department of Conservation, specialists from the Ministry for the Environment and the West Coast Regional Council.

The Fox River and surrounds have been identified as the worst effected, with heavy items lodged in-river and through the bush and land surrounding it. The clean-up of the mid and upper stretches of the river has been identified as too hazardous for volunteers to help with. Teams of people familiar with the difficult conditions on the river and able to use specialised equipment will clear the rubbish in these areas.

Ground access to areas of coastline is being organised with landholder. Access ways will be made safe for people to use in order to reach the beaches.

As well as volunteers assisting with the clean-up, the local business community has put its weight behind the clean-up, with staff time, accommodation and food being provided for volunteers and clean-up teams.

“It’s great to see everyone mucking in to help us restore our wonderful natural environment” says Bruce Smith.

People who want to help with the clean-up should contact foxlandfillresponse@westlanddc.govt.nz with the dates they are available and any specialised skills they might have. Volunteers will need to ensure they bring adequate food and suitable clothing and footwear as well as sunscreen and insect repellent. Updates are available on the South Westland Coastal Clean-up Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/southwestlandcoastalcleanup/

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