Buller District Council

Work underway to mitigate impacts of compromised landfill

11th February, 2022

The recent weather front has had major impacts on Buller water catchments, resulting in extreme river flows throughout the district. 

The historic Reefton Landfill site, located to the west of the town adjacent to the Inangahua River, was impacted by high river levels on Thursday night, causing a breach in the rock wall defence. Erosion has caused rubbish to be released, travelling downstream from the site. 

Work is currently underway to re-train the river from around 100m upstream, to allow time for remediation works to be undertaken. Once river levels have dropped, the site will be assessed for an engineered response. Clean-up is planned to be undertaken once the site is safe to access. 

The Inangahua River at the Blacks Point site just upstream of Reefton, has a median annual flow of 7.6m3/s. It rose rapidly to a peak of 750.5m3/s on the 10th February. Rock protection to armour the closed landfill site proved unsuccessful in combatting this weeks weather event. 

“Protection measures for this inactive legacy landfill site were put in place in 2014, to protect against events such as this”, says Eric de Boer, Buller District Council’s Infrastructure Delivery Manager. 

 “However increasingly extreme weather is exposing how vulnerable some of these historic sites are. Data from our last three recent events will inform the engineering for future protection, once we have mitigated the immediate issues”. 

This week’s storm has caused major infrastructure damage to the Buller region, with extensive road closures due to slips and dropouts, and some community water supplies impacted. Work is currently being undertaken across the district to restore transportation routes and reinstate essential services to residents. 


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