To: Hon David Parker, Minister for the Environment, Hon Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment, Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Associate Minsiter for the Environment
Date: 1 July 2019
I am writing to express the Authority’s concern over the response to the Fox River landfill erosion and the required clean-up. While we commend the efforts of volunteers and the local authorities to date, as well as the Department of Conservation’s support, mitigation efforts must be put in place to avoid similar events in the future.
The Authority received a letter from the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board in late May, in which they voiced their concern over the inadequate first response. While initial volunteer efforts were successful in cleaning up the worst of the visible rubbish, the riverbed remains littered with rubbish and we are concerned that the containment of the landfill is inadequate to avoid this happening again in future.
While we understand that the Department of Conservation has now taken over from the Westland District Council as the lead agency co-ordinating the clean-up, we believe that the scale of the clean-up must be a salutary message to New Zealand’s local government to ensure all hazardous sites are registered, and mitigation measures are in place to avoid similar such catastrophic messes elsewhere.
We hope that you will work alongside local government to ensure that events like this are not repeated throughout the country, and if they do occur there is adequate preparation and resourcing to enable a quick and efficient clean-up operation.
E noho ora mai
Edward Ellison ONZM
Cc: Keith Morfett, Acting Chairperson West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board