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Fears Fox River clean up could be 'undone' by looming spring rainfall

The ongoing coastal clean-up at the West Coast's Fox River has more than 100 people on the ground as efforts increase before spring rainfall arrives.

Up to 70 New Zealand Defence Force personnel have joined the clean up today, taking efforts to a record high.

It comes almost four months after the Fox River landfill was washed out in raging flood waters.

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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

Department of Conservation operations manager, Ian Graham, says there is a lot of rubbish, covering a huge area.

"I did get asked the question about how I stay positive and it’s tough to stay positive, but with 150 people on the ground you come out here with a smile each day and I feed off that," he says.

Last month DOC took over the clean up project dubbed "Operation Tidy Fox,” and they're starting to see progress.

"The total area of the worst affected area is the equivalent of about 550 rugby fields so we've cleaned about half of that now," says DOC incident controller, Owen Kilgour.

The Defence Force will support DOC over the next month and will also work alongside volunteers.

Rodger Millard is a Fox local, he's been at the scene since day one.

"We stood on the bridge and watched it all come down underneath the bridge and four months later we're still picking it up," he says.

So far, the estimated cost of the clean up is around a $750,000, with army trucks helping minimise the cost of logistics.

As well as having NZDF on the ground. they've also brought their light military vehicles with them, which means they can easily transport volunteers from Fox Glacier out to the location and also reach areas that until now have been inaccessible.

But DOC is concerned that if the worst affected areas aren't cleared by September, when major rainfall is expected, it could undo all the work so far.

Mr Graham says the rains will move rubbish around the river which he says is "really active" and moves from channel to channel. 



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Dozens of Defence Force personnel and volunteers are involved in the clean-up effort. Source: 1 NEWS