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There are at least a hundred historic rubbish dumps around the country exposed to flooding and climate change effects, just like the site in South Westland which has strewn rubbish across beaches after flooding, Forest & Bird says.   

A report from Local Government New Zealand indicates the Auckland region is most at risk with 88 old landfill sites which would be exposed with only 0.5 metres of sea level rise. Otago, Nelson, and Canterbury also have multiple closed landfills at risk.   

“There are likely to be many hundreds of other old landfills and hazardous sites which aren’t in this LGNZ report but are close to rivers and coastlines threatened by climate change. Contaminated sites everywhere need to be assessed and protected from climate change.”  

“It isn’t good enough to have councils around the country denying their responsibility to take climate change seriously, especially when some of those most in denial are also the most exposed to flooding and sea level rise,” says Forest & Bird Conservation Advocacy Manager Jennifer Miller.    

“Councils need to restore and protect natural habitats, safeguarding infrastructure, and demanding a nationwide plan to reduce emissions.”  

“The Ministry for the Environment has responsibility for leading this work, and making sure that councils are not consigning their residents and landscapes to more of these preventable ecological disasters.  

“What’s happened in Fox River is a disaster for nature. We saw similar events in Greymouth last year, and there are over 100 other old landfills in this report where sea level rise could cause a similar situation.  

"The Ministry for the Environment must provide clear guidance to councils on what their responsibilities are, and central Government must resource this regional work.  

“These problems cannot be dealt with by ‘bringing in dozers' as the Westland mayor seems to think, nor building retaining walls. Councils need to take action on adapting to climate change, including by protecting old landfill sites from erosion.”  

“Restoring nature is a key part of preparing for climate change because healthy sand dunes, wetlands, and forests will slow water and reduce flooding and scouring effects.” 

Notes:  

LGNZ report on infrastructure exposed to sea level rise is here: 

http://www.lgnz.co.nz/assets/Uploads/d566cc5291/47716-LGNZ-Sea-Level-Rise-Report-3-Proof-FINAL-compressed.pdf 

The table on page 37 breaks down landfill sites region by region where data is available.  

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