Defence Force to send large contingent to help clean up West Coast landfill rubbish

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has announced they will send up to 70 personnel, vehicles and aircraft to help remove thousands of tonnes of rubbish spilt from a West Coast landfill during flooding in March.

Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said NZDF personnel would team up with Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and volunteers to help clean up rubbish scattered across 1620 hectares of coastline and river bed.

"We have been planning with DOC over the past three weeks and are finalising arrangements for our support, which at this stage will happen over a four-week period from late July to late August," Mr Gilmour said.

The announcement follows a story which ran on TVNZ 1's Sunday programme highlighting the severity of the spill, which volunteers have said is only "less than 5 per cent" dealt with.

The government yesterday announced they intend to double their funding for the clean up, with an additional $300,000 coming from three departments.

NZDF will provide helicopter support, military vehicles and personnel to aid with logistics and labour.

It's estimated by DOC that about 5500 tons of rubbish was washed out during the flood.

DOC South Westland Operations  Manager Wayne Costello said they are very appreciative of the offer of help from the NZDF.

"People power is what it will take to remove the rubbish from the riverbed," he said.

Volunteers, including tourists, have been helping with the clean up so far, and DOC is looking to recruit a large number of volunteers to help with the effort.

The volunteers would receive accommodation and meals to assist them, and people can sign up here.

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Volunteers are trying to clean up decades of rubbish after a huge storm washed a landfill down a world heritage site on the West Coast. Source: Sunday