An aerial view of where the two landfills are located on Beach Rd, near Oamaru.

Coastal erosion causes old landfill sites to spill waste onto South Island beach

Coastal erosion is causing rubbish from two historic landfills to spill down a cliff face and onto a beach near Oamaru. The two rural landfills are located along a steep coastal cliff between Beach Rd and the Pacific Ocean. They sit on Waitaki District Council land, but were never opened or approved as landfills by the council.(Oamaru is the largest town in North Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand).

A council report says the landfills were discovered in 2017 and about 60 tonnes of waste was removed. An unquantified amount of material remains at both sites, which are vulnerable to coastal erosion.

"The high water mark is close to the toe of the landfills, with wave run-up expected to reach the landfills frequently ... The coastline is in slow retreat and buried waste [has] been exposed and fallen out onto the beach."

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More rubbish is expected to end up on the beach as the cliff-face keeps eroding, the report says.

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