National Party calls on Government to get involved in West Coast dump disaster

The National Party is calling on the Government to help with a West Coast dump that burst open after heavy rain, spewing waste across the region.

Piles of rubbish, some of it hazardous, have littered the beaches and made cleaning up difficult. On top of all of that, the Government and local district council are disagreeing over who should pay.

"There's been a request from Westland District Council for Government assistance. It's the Westland District Council's landfill. It's its responsibility," Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said.

National Party environment spokesperson Scott Simpson told The AM Show on Wednesday that's not good enough considering the size of the Westland District Council.

"Here's a very small district council, only with 8000 odd rate payers trying to grapple with a problem that they think will probably cost somewhere north of $1 million and so far the Government's done nothing."

He said the Government says it's kind, now's the chance to show it.

"This is a Government that often tells us that they care, that they want to be kind, well now's an opportunity for them to put the textbook theory to one side, get their noses out of the books and actually do something constructive and positive."

In the immediate aftermath of the spill, Sage said she would get advice about how many other landfills are at risk of opening up.

"I'll be asking the Ministry for the Environment for a better understanding of the extent of the risk and I would hope that councils around the country would be recognising the huge impact of what's happened when landfills get exposed to rivers and make sure that their landfills are well maintained," she told RNZ.

But for now Westland locals are stuck with piles of rubbish on their beaches.

"It's a disaster, it's a total disaster - on Friday I was down at the Waiho [River] and the whole way you just see footprints of penguins going through rubbish," one local told Newshub earlier in April.

"There's little tiny bits of micro-plastics everywhere, as well as the big stuff. There's risk for entanglement and ingestment."


Contact Newshub with your story tips: