A "sickening" smell emanating from a ruptured old East Coast landfill is disgusting, says a local who wants the council to take action on the legacy problem.
The landfill, next to the Awatere River mouth in the remote town of Te Araroa closed in 1999. But it ruptured in several places along an 80 metre length in high tides earlier this month, leaking rubbish.
"The stench coming from it is so powerful it is sickening," Ripeka Irwin said.
"I don't even know how to describe it, it actually makes you feel sick in the stomach ... it's really freaky."
Gisborne District Council has begun wrapping the former 2500 square metre landfill in erosion-proof fabric and building a rock wall to protect it from the river and sea.
Ripeka said it was good to see the repairs done, and they have held up well during recent heavy rain.
A community meeting is planned for next week to work out how to deal with the contaminated site in the long term, with some locals calling for it to be completely excavated, and for its rubbish to be shipped away.
Irwin said in the past few days she had to tell three nearby surfers who were using the beach near the dump about the breach and potential contamination, and she was concerned for people gathering kai moana.
"We're really disappointed in our council that there's been none whatsoever of any signage put up, telling our whanau it's really not safe.
"It's got to be seeping into our awa and into our moana, I just wouldn't eat anything that you catch close to here. It seems simple to have signage, letters out to our community, something over the radio - something letting us know what's happening."
She said contractors working on the site had worn masks.
The council is yet to advise whether people should avoid swimming and fishing near the old dump. However, it said the smell coming from the site, while unpleasant, was not dangerous.
Community lifelines director Dave Wilson, who was to visit Te Araroa today, says the methane smell is "an expected side effect of an old landfill that has been uncovered and subsequently had rain and seawater enter the old fill material".
The material's exposure to air and the use of construction equipment on top of the old dump also generated odour as the material continued to break down, he said.
Council staff were checking the site daily.
Irwin, with help of other concerned locals, collected eight ute-loads of rubbish that washed out of the old dump.
She said locals had been warning the council for years about the risk of the landfill rupturing.
There had been "generations of frustration and anger and hope that one person might hear and push for our community", she said.
"Why isn't anyone listening? It's still a huge worry that it's still going to be there. I know there's this geo-tech cloth going on, but is it going to keep us safe? I think what we really need to push for is to get it taken out of here."
Locals were still collecting a lot of rubbish from the beach. They have now been asked not to go near the stone wall.
"It's just going to wash into the next township and bay, that's not cool."
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