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Landfill opponents fight will continue


Land use — Stop the Dump Coalition, McPhillips Farms request reconsideration on berm project

The Stop the Dump Coalition/Waste Not of Yamhill County and McPhillips Farms Inc. have filed a request for reconsideration with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, asking that the agency reverse its May 30 decision approving Waste Management’s application to build an earthen berm at Riverbend Landfill.

The coalition and McPhillips Farms have also requested a stay that would prohibit the depositing of waste behind the berm until the request for reconsideration is decided.

The project in question — a wall 1,700 feet long, 34 feet wide at the top and 25 to 40 feet tall — is meant to increase the landfill’s capacity by approximately 1 million cubic yards without increasing its height, thereby extending the operation’s life expectancy by a couple more years.

Waste Management’s application was ultimately approved in May after nearly two years of design review by DEQ, despite vehement protests by the coalition and its supporters, whose concerns included that the berm would not withstand a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and could pollute neighboring lands and waters.

Bob Schwarz, a permit engineer for DEQ who is overseeing Riverbend Landfill and the berm application, confirmed last week that his agency was in receipt of the coalition and farm’s requests but had yet to issue decisions. He said DEQ has 60 days to reconsider its decision to approve the berm and 30 days to grant or deny the stay request regarding placement of waste behind the berm.

A press release from the coalition said it is contending that DEQ “ignored, overlooked, or dismissed out-of-hand compelling evidence that the (berm) is unsafe, unnecessary and inconsistent with state and federal law.”

“The request (for reconsideration) points to serious errors DEQ committed in relying on cherry-picked data and analyses supplied by Waste Management’s California-based engineering firm,” it said.

The release contended that the applicant failed to demonstrate a need for additional solid waste capacity at Riverbend given that there is ample space at Coffin Butte in Corvallis, reliance on seismic data and analyses that do not meet state or federal standards, and ignoring potential Clean Water Act violations and evidence that contradicted the reports of Waste Management’s geotechnical consultants.

In a previous interview, Jackie Lang, communications director for the Oregon division of Waste Management, said her company was confident in the berm’s design and the input from its engineers.

“The DEQ set a high bar for this project, and we met it in full,” she said.

Riverbend broke ground on the berm shortly after it was approved by DEQ. According to Lang, Waste Management was also to begin planning this year for an expansion of approximately 60 acres, which would be subject to the approval of the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners.