18 July 2019
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is helping the Department of Conservation conduct an aerial survey of work sites along Fox River.
Thousands of tonnes of rubbish from a disused landfill were strewn across 1270 hectares of riverbed and 64 kilometres of coastline following severe flooding in March.
Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour, the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said a Royal New Zealand Air Force A109 light utility helicopter went to Fox Glacier this morning to fly Department of Conservation (DOC) staff to work sites.
“The aim is to assess the progress of the clean-up so far and how we can best use NZDF helicopters to boost DOC’s efforts, particularly in the more difficult-to-access areas,” Rear Admiral Gilmour said.
Wayne Costello, Operations Manager for DOC in South Westland, said the NZDF would lead the clean-up of Zone 2 (Cook River) and Zone 3 (the coastline).
The helicopter reconnaissance would enable DOC to share local knowledge of the access areas and hazards and suggest strategies for tackling these zones, he said.
The NZDF currently has 18 New Zealand Army personnel and eight vehicles supporting the Fox River clean-up. Forty-five additional personnel will go to the West Coast next week to help DOC staff and volunteers pick up rubbish scattered across Fox River.
Helicopter support will start in late July to help remove bags of rubbish from remote locations.