Dramatic footage of work to remove rot from inside filters at the burnt-out Christchurch sewage treatment plant has been released, demonstrating the daunting task ahead.
Drone footage and images shared by the city council show an excavator parked at the top of a ramp at the edge of one of the two trickling filters and another excavator inside pushing material against the wall so that it can be dug.
A fogger sprays water on the filter media to suppress dust.
Contractors are working 12 hours a day, six days a week to remove 26,000 cubic meters of material from filters by September.
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A wedge of around 1,000 cubic meters has already been mined, crushed, compacted and taken to the Kate Valley landfill where it is being treated as hazardous waste.
The Bromley plant was badly damaged by a fire last November, but work to remove decaying material inside the filters only started last week.
Work was halted on Tuesday due to a mechanical failure of the compactor and generator, then resumed the following day.
People who live near the plant have been forced to put up with the putrid stench coming from filters and oxidation ponds for months, but the council hopes the smell will improve as the material is removed and that special pumps improve the quality of the effluent entering the ponds.
Gases including hydrogen sulphide have been detected during specialist air quality testing around the plant, which the council plans to monitor with more meters on site and in residential areas.