Government and Westland Council in deadlock over who should pay for landfill washout

There's an impasse over who should pay to clean up after an old landfill was washed out by the Fox River flooding on the West Coast last month.

The storm, which also caused rising river levels that destroyed the Waiho Bridge, led to decades' worth of rubbish being scattered across 50km of coastline.

Hazardous material is making many piles untouchable, posing a health hazard to anyone thinking of helping out over the long weekend.

Much of it has been removed by helicopter and stored at a more modern dump but work by volunteers, some working 15 or 16 hours a day to reduce the mess, is now on hold.

In spite of the urgency to clean up this environmental hazard, the mayor's insisting everyone take an Easter break.

"We've insisted that they take Easter off and right through to next weekend because Anzac day is really important," said Westland Mayor Bruce Smith.

"Your health and safety is absolutely top priority for us."

There's still more rubbish to pick up, but not enough money to fund the clean-up.

The Westland District Council said because the rubbish ended up mostly on Department of Conservation (DoC) land, the Government should pay.

But the Government said the 75-year-old tip is the council's responsibility.

"The 86 percent of the land is owned and controlled by DoC. Let's make sure the costs are spread in proportion to the area of land," said Smith.

But Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage has poured cold water on that for now.

"There's been a request from Westland District Council for Government assistance. It's the Westland District Council's landfill. It's its responsibility."

She said the Government won't be coughing up any money until it sees a remediation plan.

"We need to see very clearly what the money is actually needed for given the massive effort that Westland council has coordinated to date."


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