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Westland crisis raises questions over benefit of land fils

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Monday, 1 April 2019, 6:42p.m.
Questions are being asked about whether land fills are the way to go to handle rubbish. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Are rubbish dumps the best way to deal with our waste? 

"Tonnes" of recycling and rubbish is washing up on previously pristine Westland district beaches after an old Fox Glacier landfill breached following the recent storm.

Locals have spending the past couple of days picking up everything from bits of plastic to old car tyres as officials assess the severity of the situation.

Okarito residents say rubbish was washing up along at least 100km of coastline between there and Haast after last week's storm, which washed away the Waiho River bridge, cutting off the district.

It has raised questions about the benefit of land fills. However, waste management consultant Lisa Eve told Larry Williams that rubbish dumps themselves aren't the issue, but the one causing problems now is very old. 

She says that unofficial sites, such as old quarries, where people simply throw their rubbish in and forget about it are the main source of concern.

"These are the sites that are really causing us problems now. "Some of them, we don't even know that they are there until something goes wrong." 

Eve says that the councils who own the dumps need to monitor them and make sure they are not causing any problems. 

"Any closed landfills that we do actually know about are the responsibility of the local council."

She imagines that this issue will cause councils around the country to re-examine their approach to handling these landfills. 

Eve says that New Zealand has changed from being a country of unofficial, small sites that once went ignored to having large, well managed landfills that are lined to prevent chemicals that come out from the rubbish from leaking into the waterways. 

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