New Zealand / Environment

Sea of plastic threatens Grey district after storm

15:02 pm on 5 February 2018

Grey district is fighting to prevent an environmental disaster caused by last week's West Coast storm.

Tens of thousands of plastic bags have been unearthed on a West Coast beach. Photo: Facebook / Tony Kokshoorn

A mass of plastic was washed out to sea from the decommissioned Cobden rubbish dump on the banks of the Grey River.

Grey district mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the storm exposed the dump and now the rubbish has floated back on shore.

"We had an emergency meeting with the council last week and we have voted to spend between $800,000 to $1 million," he said.

"We will now concentrate on just making sure those bags [of rubbish] don't go [back] out to sea."

The dump, which operated for 40 years, was decommissioned 20 years ago.

The size of the ocean swell was unprecedented and unexpected, Mr Kokshoorn said.