Rubbish causing concern

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The load of rubbish resulting from increased traffic volumes through Murchison following the Kaikoura earthquake continues to cost Tasman District Council staff, councillors and ratepayers, time and money.

Businesses in Murchison are booming with traffic driving through the town increasing by more than 2700 vehicles a day after November’s 7.8 earthquake closed State Highway 1 near Kaikoura. But that’s caused some costly problems as well which Murchison-Lakes councillor and engineering services committee chairman Stu Bryant saying the issues are “consuming a lot of time for our staff” and costing ratepayers money.

Stu says one of the biggest flow-on effects of the closure of SH1 is the dramatic increase in the amount of rubbish travellers are dumping in Murchison. Council has already increased the number of public, solar-powered  compactor bins from five to nine and increased the opening hours of the town’s refuse transfer station but that’s costing the ratepayers.

Although state highways are managed by the New Zealand Transport Agency, Stu says council and its ratepayers are picking up the bill for increasing its waste disposal services. Council’s asset engineer for waste management and minimisation, David Stephenson says it’s difficult to quantify the cost because of changes in services and seasonal variation but he concedes it is likely to be a significant.

“We were clearing the five bins, on average, one and half times a week last September and October,” David says. “Last week, we cleared nine bins five to six times week – that’s a big change.

“Since the earthquake, we haven’t dropped below four times as week. The bins have a capacity of about 30kg so that’s a lot of rubbish.”

David says the amount of waste being taken to the refuse transfer station has increased by about 25 per cent with most of that being cardboard and plastic from retailers. That cost is also falling on the ratepayer.

“There’s not a lot of extra commercial waste but it’s the cardboard, plastic and glass,” he says. “It’s all the things that come from the increased trading.”

Stu admits he’s frustrated that council is paying for the increase in services although he hopes “NZTA will give us some assistance” with the additional costs.

Council is also increasing the street sweeping services to keep Murchison clean as well as opening a truck stop for 15 to 20 trucks  behind Murchison Mechanical.

“We hope that this will alleviate the issues with trucks parking on the Murchison streets and just out of town.”

He wants to “publicly thank the owners of Murchison Mechanical for their patience and support in providing their land for this truck stop.”

Stu says concerns about the speed of vehicles outside the town’s school have been alleviated after the new 40kmh speed limit zone outside the school was “finally” gazetted on March 31.

Council is also negotiating with a “strategically placed business” to see if they can open up their toilets to the public because “we have looked at port-a-loos but nobody wants them outside their place and we don’t want to build permanent toilets for a short term”.