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Millions To Secure Tokomaru Bay’s Landfill

Gisborne District Council has been granted nearly $5millon from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) to stop waste from the landfill in Tokomaru Bay being exposed by erosion during severe weather events.

Funding of $4,985,891 was announced by Minister for the Environment Penny Simmonds on 24 February. The money has come from the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund and will be used to remediate the legacy landfill site to prevent further erosion and waste ending up in the environment.

This funding covers the remediation of the legacy landfill site only. Remediation means to restore by reversing or stopping environmental damage.

This will be a two-year project that will start mid-2024 following engagement to work through details with hapū and residents of Tokomaru Bay.

Physical work is scheduled for the summer period.

Relocation of the existing transfer station will need to be completed before remedial work is done on the site.

The relocation is not covered by this funding agreement; however Council does have funds already for this.

The landfill, and the current transfer station, are situated on a bend of the Mangahauini River beside the Tokomaru Bay township.

Council Liveable Communities director Michele Frey says after testing of the site has been completed, options to remediate will be provided to the community to help consider the best pathway forward.

“We’re very grateful the Government has listened to the concerns for this vulnerable piece of whenua in Tairāwhiti.”

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MfE allocates funding for contaminated land areas based on risk.

“Tokomaru Bay stands as one of the most susceptible legacy landfill sites within the Tairāwhiti region.

“Early heavy rainfall events in July 2020 compromised the landfill, exposing waste material during subsequent weather events. As an emergency response, a limestone rock revetment was constructed.

“Regrettably, this measure has now been completely washed away due to the cyclones last year.”

Ms Frey says other areas in our region also have legacy landfills that require attention.

In 2020 the Keke Pohatu legacy landfill site in Te Araroa was impacted by weather and sea swells that caused significant erosion. Waste was washed out to sea with a large portion washed back up onto the beach.

“We know the Te Araroa community also wants this legacy landfill site remediated.

“In the background we’re continuously seeking external funding for this project, and others, and we’re very hopeful.”

The Mangahauini River is used by Tokomaru Bay residents and their whānau for swimming and fishing and is a big part of their lifestyle.

Discharge from the old landfill degrades the quality of the water and the ecologyofthe river.

“Tokomaru Bay’s legacy landfill has been exposed around seven times over the last five years.

“The landfill site began operation in 1967 and was using 60 metres of landfill space in the late 1980s.

“In 1996 a concrete refuse pit with leachate disposal lines was installed for domestic refuse, with areas allocated on the unsealed surfaces for diversion of other wastes.

“The site was closed in 1999 when the resource consents expired, and the remaining waste was removed and relocated to Paokahu Landfill in Gisborne.”

The Tokomaru Bay Transfer Station was consented in 2001 and sits upon the pre-existing legacy landfill that was originally built out onto the riverbed. During the interim period of 1999 and 2001, refuse was burnt in the concrete pit. Sealing of the site did not occur until 2004.

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