Residents are furious that polystyrene waste has been scattered over more than 7 km of Wellington’s south coast, including a marine reserve, and are calling on authorities to deal more with such incidents.
Jade Lorier, a resident of Whiro Bay, was among those collecting litter from the streets and front lawns, and said the litter was pouring into streams, sewers and the sea.
Polystyrene is not biodegradable.
“I am really worried about the health of our waterway. We have native eels, as well as fish, I’m worried about the wildlife in the marine reserve, ”Lorier said. “We’re trying to protect and restore this area, and it’s just an absolute nightmare for the south coast.
“I would like this person to be held responsible, it’s an environmental disaster. I am furious.
The incident sparked an uproar on local Facebook groups for action against the continued pollution from three nearby landfills on Happy Valley Road, and unsecured charges being driven there.
Lawyer Adam Holloway was among those cleaning the polystyrene and said there was “constantly fresh trash” blown onto the street and coastline. “It’s disheartening,” he said.
“I’m sure we don’t have them all, and the next time it rains, whatever is left will flow down the gutters, and from there into the creek, and out of the creek into the marine reserve.”
He was among those who called on councilors and staff to come to a meeting to tell residents what powers they have to take action, what powers they need to have to be able to make a bigger difference, why they don’t take more action , and what could be done to create a better system.
“I’m disappointed that this happened [the scattering of rubbish], but I hope it will be a catalyst for productive conversations, ”Holloway said.
Incident reported to council
A man who asked not to be named told RNZ he spotted the driver as they were losing styrofoam. He followed the trailer to the point on Happy Valley Road, where he confronted the driver, telling him he had to cover his load and that the bullets he was losing could kill fish.
He then reported the incident to council, but said the staff member was dismissive and said it was a minor issue, and he received no response.
“The beans were blowing like it was Christmas. [The man driving ] was an entrepreneur, but he should know better, he could have covered his load.
“Polystyrene is the worst product ever, it’s so bad for the environment… and there are millions of it.
Council considers sanctions
Wellington City Council infrastructure manager Tom Williams said the source of the styrofoam trail was found using CCTV footage and officers were considering action under the Act. waste.
“The person in question has come from Lyall Bay to Ōwhiro Bay, and there has actually been polystyrene all along that coast. It’s a beautiful maritime environment, and one single act of stupidity can ruin it for everybody. “
A street sweeping truck was dispatched to help with the cleanup, and the sumps were checked and in good condition and should prevent styrofoam from flowing through them into the storm water system.
He disagreed that the council was ruthless in enforcing the rules against waste and pollution: “There are a series of fines that we can issue and notices of violation under of the Waste Act.
However, actions taken against people under the Waste Act were rare, he said.
“Once or twice a year is a relatively rare occurrence. Most Wellingtonians behave responsibly in the face of this sort of thing.”
Call for a new reflection on polluters
Another resident of the South Bays, Kedron Parker, said the council’s response to the current problem was pretty much invisible.
“Today there are people all over the coast sweeping these little balls. These minor issues, over time, build up and have a significant environmental impact – so we need environmental authorities to know what’s going on. There are decades of community anger. and the disappointment about it that needs to be recognized. “
She said a new approach was needed and new thinking.
“This is a system problem. Handing it over to the police is not the easy answer. All community members really need is a means for community members. to write down problems as they see them, with information on how the cars are managed, and for authorities to follow in some way. This is quick and proportionate to the problem.
“We have to influence the behavior of people. It’s doable, affordable, and easy to use. We want people to know it’s a windy area and to cover their load. And we want people to know why – it’s about culture change, it’s about the south coast, the quality of our waters and the wildlife in the marine reserve. “