Old West Coast landfill still 'spewing out' rubbish on beaches

More than a year later, rubbish, believed to be washed out from an old landfill on the West Coast, is still sprawled across the region's beaches.

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Kiwis Clean Aotearoa's Des Watson collected a pile of plastic waste on Nine Mile Beach yesterday. Source: 1 NEWS

Kiwis Clean Aotearoa's Des Watson spend about seven hours picking up trash on Nine Mile Beach yesterday.

Mr Watson told 1 NEWS he was sure it was the same waste as what was cleaned up from the Fox and Cook river missions after flooding on March 19 as he was among a cohort of volunteers and New Zealand Defence Force personnel cleaning up the area at the time. Much of the rubbish he found was similar, for example it was burnt like some of the landfill trash was.

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Mr Watson said it was "pretty gutting" for the amount of waste to still be there over a year later, especially given the new litter collection was further away at Nine Mile Beach, north of Fox River.

In it's latest meeting at the end of May, Westland District Council (WDC) said it was currently evaluating long term management of the closed landfill following the storm event.

"To support a feasibility assessment for the landfill mining WDC commissioned Golders to undertake an intrusive investigation report," the meeting agenda states.

"Golders are in the final compilation stage of the report for the Ministry for the Environment. The report will give options and assessments of what is able to happen next guided by central government."

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The council said it would have discussions with the ministry on funding streams, as well as a plan for the future.

However, Mr Watson wanted to stop the problem at it's source and is therefore calling for an alternative to landfills to properly fix the problem.

"Landfills have never been the answer and they never will be and this is an example," he said.

"The recycling [plan in New Zealand] is pretty pathetic, there's cans and bottles, all shipped overseas. It defeats the purpose of recycling in the first place."

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First exposed by ex-cyclone Fehi last year, large chunks of earth have eroded over the past three days at the Hector landfill. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Watson said in 2018 he got a sum of inheritance which led him to travel the nation with a trailer collecting rubbish and visiting council's to ask about their waste management schemes. 

"My worry has always been the impact on animals," he said, citing penguins, dolphins, whales and other birds impacted by rubbish created by humans.

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He's originally from Westport, but was up north in Kaitaia when the Covid-19 pandemic ramped up. He headed back to the South Island to go into lockdown at a family property in Marlborough Sound, before returning to the West Coast recently.

He uses an app called marine Debris Tracker, and in the past eight month has collected 24,000 items.

The pick up at Nine Mile Beach yesterday collected about 1000 items alone.

Mr Watson described the state of the beach as "disgusting", but he hoped others too would help the clean up mission.

"Yes, it's pretty gutting in the amount that was strewn along the beach ... Rubbish is still spewing out [of the old landfill].

"It's very concerning for me to find that plastic on a short walk."

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As the volunteer clean-up effort comes to an end, DOC director general Lou Sanson speaks to Breakfast. Source: Breakfast