9 July 2019
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has sent the first wave of personnel and vehicles to the West Coast as it begins to help the Department of Conservation clean up thousands of tonnes of rubbish strewn across Fox River.
The NZDF is sending, in phases, up to 70 personnel, vehicles and aircraft to support the Fox River rubbish spill clean-up.
Major Denis Petre, the NZDF Liaison Officer, said a Pinzgauer Light Operational all-terrain vehicle was helping transport Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and volunteers to task sites along the northern side of Fox River today.
The Pinzgauer was also picking up bags of rubbish collected by DOC personnel and volunteers, Major Petre said.
Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said more personnel and vehicles would be deployed starting from next week to help DOC clean up rubbish scattered across about 1,620 hectares of coastline and river bed.
The main contingent of NZDF personnel will deploy on 22 July and work with DOC staff and volunteers until late August.
“We have been planning with DOC since June,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said. “Our Defence Force is always ready to assist our local communities with our specialist capabilities.”
DOC Incident Controller Owen Kilgour said the NZDF support would boost the efforts of DOC and its many volunteers who have removed 50 tonnes of rubbish so far.
“NZDF support is already improving efficiencies throughout the operation. We’re able to transport our fantastic volunteers to and from the site quicker, as well as collect any rubbish bags the volunteers fill.
“We’re looking forward to the extra support and additional resources the NZDF will bring in the weeks to come, but we still need the help of many volunteers to clean up this special place,” Mr Kilgour said.
Volunteers assisting with the clean-up receive accommodation and meals from DOC. People can sign up to help at www.doc.govt.nz/operation-tidy-fox-volunteer