TODAY |

Westport 'can't wait' for Government funds to stop erosion of Hector landfill


Westport residents fearing a repeat of the Fox River landfill disaster say they can't afford to wait for Government funding to stop erosion.

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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

The Buller District Council has asked the Government for over half-a-million dollars to stop erosion, but the Government says with potentially dozens of dumps facing similar issues from climate change there needs to be a national strategy instead.

First exposed by ex-cyclone Fehi last year, large chucks of earth have eroded over the past three days at the Hector landfill on the coast near Westport.

Resident Keith Johnson says the debris exposed at the beach includes plastic bottles, nylon ropes and "bits of timber with nails and bolts sticking out of it".

Buller District councillor Emily Miazga says the community doesn't want to see "another Fox River situation" and the council is getting phone calls from people who are "really starting to get concerned and upset that it looks like nothing's being done".

Protective sand barriers have been put up, and washed away by the surf.

The Buller District Council wants a long-term solution like a rock wall, but that'll cost around $600,000.

Councillor Miazga says an application was put in to the Contaminated Sites Remediation Fund but that was declined.

In a letter to the council last week, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said the remediation fund isn't for issues like this. 

She wasn't available for interview today, but in a statement told 1 NEWS, "The issues facing Buller are similar to other historic landfills around the country which are at increasing risks from climate change.

"We can't solve the issue landfill by landfill. We need to deal with it across New Zealand."

The Hector landfill is one of more than 100 landfills around the country exposed to seas rising by half a metre. And the Hector dump contains not only household rubbish but toxins and industrial waste, having been used as a dump for a nearby coal mine.

Ms Sage says talks with various councils are ongoing.

She's encouraging them to detail concerns to the Ministry for the Environment ahead of a report expected next year.

Councillor Miazga said: "We can't wait for more reports, or more assessments. We really need to see some action urgently to remediate this site."

She says it's a small price to pay avoid a multi-million-dollar clean-up.