Clean-up volunteers sought

by Paul Campbell

Members of the Fight the Tip campaign opposing a landfill for Auckland rubbish in the Dome Valley, with a perceived threat of polluting Kaipara Harbour, are looking further afield in their opposition to landfill sites near waterways.

The application for a rubbish tip by Waste Management Ltd in the Hoteo River catchment has led to a petition to parliament over threats to waterways, and a rahui has been declared over the proposed site.

Now Fight the Tip supporters are set to help clean-up an estimated 5,500 tons of waste in a remote area of the South Island.

There, an old landfill spewed out 75 kilometres of rubbish along the Fox River and onto coastal beaches after a storm three months ago in what’s described as one of the country’s worst environmental disasters.

“It’s not just a local problem, it’s a New Zealand problem,” says Fight the Tip member Kathleen Smith, who is coordinating volunteers from the Kaipara area to join in the operation. Workers already clearing rubbish littering the huge area are finding medical waste, needles and asbestos among the debris.

“This is a catastrophe in our most pristine area,” said Ms Smith.

“It’s the tragic result of putting a landfill near a highly significant waterway, which has resulted in devastation.”

The Department of Conservation is leading the clean-up operation, and the NZ Defence Force is providing logistical support and transporting volunteers into the area.

“Many of those working there are tourists, so it’s embarrassing,” said Ms Smith.

“I’m coordinating people from here prepared to go down — I’m planning to do so at the end of this month.”

DOC took control of the operation from the Westland District Council, and the government has injected $600,000 into the costs.

For more information on the proposed Fight the Tip Fox River initiative, contact Kathleen on 021 0242 9902 or Fight the Tip at facebook.com/groups/SavetheDome. Detailed volunteer information and conditions for willing workers is at doc.govt.nz/operation-tidy-fox-volunteer.

Alternatively, to help with volunteers’ flight costs, donations can be made to account Fight the Tip Tiaki Te Whenua Incorporated 12 3094 0274048 00 reference Fox River Crew.

Any funds left over will be used for the campaign against the Dome Valley landfill.