Min. of Defence - Please Urgently Deploy the Armed Forces to Coastal Disaster Cleanup

Min. of Defence - Please Urgently Deploy the Armed Forces to Coastal Disaster Cleanup

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On March 26, 2019, floodwaters from the Fox river flowed through a now decommissioned  rubbish landfill site, forcing decades worth of dumped plastics, tyres, containers, household waste and hazardous chemicals onto the coastline, and out into the ocean.

The once pristine coastline of the West Coast of the South Island, stretching more than 100 kilometres, has been affected.

Volunteers have now spent nine weeks gathering the rubbish by hand from the riverbed and nearby beaches, but say the job could take years - if there’s not an urgent centralised response to this disaster.

Last week, the Westland District Council announced it had run out of money to fund the cleanup, and the Government declined to take over the management of what has been likened in scale to that of the Rena oil spill of 2011.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage advised, that government gave the Council $300,000 towards the cleanup, and the cleanup was its responsibility.

This has now left the volunteer group, South Westland Coastal Cleanup, without much-needed funding.

Although the group has started a GiveaLittle page (link at bottom of page) in the hope of covering some of its costs, and is also trying to co-ordinate more volunteers, if the government deployed specialist units from the NZ Armed Forces, it would assure a more positive outcome for the environment and the communities affected. 

Genevieve Robinson, coordinator at Christchurch-based “The Pod - saving Māui and Hector’s dolphins”, says the government should be looking at the overall picture.

”our marine environment is a very fragile one. We have up to half of the endangered Hector’s dolphin population living off the West coast and this disaster needs to be taken more seriously.”

”The government needs to accept that we are a country which is not doing what it should for its endangered, endemic species’ - such as the Hector’s, the NZ Fur seal - and many sea birds which could all suffer because of a lack of response.

”we cannot expect volunteers to carry the slack on this. We all should be doing what we can. That includes help from the Army.”

To help with the cleanup efforts:

1) sign this petition: 

2) volunteer your time: (head to the Facebook page - South Westland Coastal Cleanup

3) donate $$$ via the below link: