Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC Operation Tidy Fox team has announced that they expect the clean-up to be finished by mid-August.

Date:  01 August 2019

To date, the clean-up effort, managed by DOC and undertaken with the support of thousands of volunteers, and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), has resulted in the removal of 391 fadges of rubbish, the equivalent of approximately 11,730 rubbish bags, from the 21 km of river and 64 km of coastline affected by the rubbish spill.

Operation Tidy Fox incident controller, Owen Kilgour, says the worst affected area (Zone 1), which is the 5km downstream of the Fox Highway Bridge is almost completely cleared of all visible rubbish, and fast progress is being made on the lower 16km of riverbed (Zone 2), and 64km of coastline (Zone 3). “These areas have much less rubbish and will be completed at a faster rate.”

“The fact that the end is in sight will be a boost for more than 700 dedicated volunteers who have spent time picking rubbish out on the riverbed.

“We have set out to remove all of the visible rubbish from the riverbed and across the coastline. We are confident we will achieve this by mid-August.

“Some rubbish will remain buried below the riverbed, and rubbish that has already entered the sea will wash up on the beaches over time.

“Westland District Council is responsible for the environmental effects of the landfill spill and we will work with them to put in place a monitoring and clean-up programme to manage the effects of the rubbish spill over the medium to long term.

“Today, we have 80 volunteers, 17 Task Force Green workers, 45 NZDF “pickers” and 12 DOC team leaders - that’s 154 people picking up rubbish! Our call for help has been so successful that we are no longer seeking volunteers – we have enough people signed up now to complete the operation.

“As well as the volunteers arriving from around New Zealand, the NZDF has been a huge support to the clean-up. Military personnel, vehicles and helicopters have been key to the effort and are helping us move forward with the clean-up in leaps and bounds.”

The collected waste, mainly composed of plastic, is decades old. The historic landfill was closed in the early 2000s.

The landfill was breached by an extraordinary flood in March, spilling buried waste into the river and sending it 21 kilometres downstream through Westland Tai Poutini National Park, and into the Tasman sea.


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