2 Apr 2019

Hundreds of volunteers to help West Coast clean-up

4:47 pm on 2 April 2019

Hundreds of South Island volunteers have offered to take part in a massive clean-up of spilt rubbish on the West Coast tomorrow.

Rubbish strewn on the riverbank.

Rubbish strewn on the riverbank. Photo: Facebook / South Westland Coastal Cleanup

The Westland District Council said work is underway to protect and seal an old landfill by the Fox River, that eroded in heavy rainfall last week.

Rubbish from the landfill has been washing up 30 kilometres north, and 70km south, of the Fox river mouth.

To prevent further rubbish from entering the river, the council said contractors are lining the eroded area with geo cloth and filling in the bank section with rock from the river.

Centralised dumping places have been established at Okarito, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef for volunteers to put any rubbish they collect from along the coastline beaches and river. The dumps are free of charge.

Okarito resident Mike Bilodeau is helping to coordinate the clean-up, and meeting with the Westland District Council and West Coast Regional Council today to devise a plan of action for tomorrow.

He said local helicopter services were offering to fly volunteers to remote beaches for free.

Mr Bilodeau first put out the call for volunteers on Facebook yesterday and said the response had been unreal.

He said hundreds of people from all over the South Island have got in touch, along with groups like the Student Volunteer Army and Sustainable Coastlines.

The New Zealand Defence Force will help to rebuild the bridge washed out in the floods.

The Waiho Bridge has been totally taken out by the weather hitting Westland.

The Waiho Bridge has been totally taken out by the weather hitting Westland. Photo: Civil Defence West Coast

Eighteen army engineers will be working with the construction company Downer to reconstruct the Waiho bridge, which is part of State Highway 6.

The seven-span Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge developed by the British for military use during the Second World War.

Transport Agency Systems Manager Pete Connors said getting the Defence Force's help to assemble the spans on the bridge will ensure it is ready to be launched from the south side of the Waiho River as soon as possible.

The Transport Agency is expecting the rebuild work to take up to two weeks.

The existing bridge was swept away during heavy rain on 27 March cutting off access between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef.

It's a busy tourist route and the main transport link for Franz Josef to the rest of southern Westland for farmers, businesses and residents.

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The bridge that was swept away on 27 March during a major storm, cutting one of the West Coast's major lifelines. Photo: Civil Defence West Coast

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