'We need a bit of urgency': West Coast clean-up steps up a gear

Clean-up teams along the West Coast are changing tactics to deal with the Fox Landfill spill.

Hundreds of bags of rubbish have been collected from the coastline - but the focus is now turning to the Fox River.

The river burst its banks during the West Coast storm three weeks ago, unearthing a dirty dump and sending decades worth of waste washing out to sea.

Rubbish from the disused Fox River Landfill has spread across 50 kilometres of coastline.

Forty years of rubbish - that was then buried for another 40 years - was unearthed, twisting around trees and tangling in native bush.

Volunteers and Government workers have been flying in and out by helicopter in a desperate bid to clean up, collecting hundreds of sacks full of plastic and other waste.

But it's a painstaking task, and there is a long way to go.

Standing next to the debris, local volunteer Kelsey Porter told Newshub that 90 percent of the rubbish is plastic - and some of it won't get cleaned up at all.

"All of this trash is still here because this area closest to the landfill has been deemed too hazardous for volunteers to touch - because there may be agricultural chemicals or asbestos wound up here."

The next phase of the operation will focus on the source at the Fox River, where specialist teams and equipment will be required.

"We need a bit of urgency in cleaning this up," Porter said.

The second challenge is the landfill itself. Stage one was to divert the river to get it away from actually continuously washing.

Stage two was to cover the rubbish with geocloth, while Porter says stage three is to build a wall to protect the rubbish.

"But as locals we're all pretty concerned about that being effective since we've seen those same strategies fail to keep the glacier access road accessible."

Clean-up teams will spend the next three days working on the beaches before taking a break over Easter.