Friday, January 13, 2017

First Federal Community Voting Opens

Vote for Waste Not of Yamhill County!

Every year First Federal Savings and Loan asks customers to vote for the nonprofit organizations they think contribute the most to quality of life in Yamhill County.

Organizations receiving at least ten (10) votes receive a donation from First Federal.  The bank has a long history of supporting Yamhill County organizations, giving more than $2.4 million to County charities since 1999.  First Federal has pledged to distribute $40,000 in this year's voting.

You can support the Stop the Dump effort by voting -- for Waste Not of Yamhill County.

The Stop the Dump Coalition was originally known as Waste Not of Yamhill County, and that is how the organization is listed on the ballot.  "Stop the Dump" more closely communicates the organization's mission, so the name was changed.  Waste Not has received a donation every year it has appeared on the First Federal ballot.

Every dollar Waste Not/Stop the Dump receives pays for legal advice and expert scientific analysis to guide the fight to keep Riverbend Landfill from expanding.  For example, Riverbend's most recent attempt to add 29 acres to the landfill and creep closer to Highway 18 is currently on appeal in the Oregon Court of Appeals, led by Stop the Dump attorneys -- who have also taken the County to Circuit Court for issuing a Land Use Compatibility Statement for another expansion atop the existing dump, even though that issue is part of the Court of Appeals case.  Meanwhile, Stop the Dump's hydrology and seismic experts are reviewing the landfill's current and potential impacts on river and ground water quality.

This is an easy way to support the Stop the Dump effort.  If you have an account with First Federal, you are eligible to vote.  If you did not receive a ballot in the mail, ask for one at the bank!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hazelnut Grove Near Dump Contaminated

Schmidt Farm hazelnuts have been contaminated with Salmonella Typhimurium, according to Oregon Live and the Salem Statesman Journal.

This type of salmonella can make people who eat the nuts ill. According to the two news sources, "Most people who get salmonellosis become sick in one to five days after exposure. Salmonellosis can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps that can last up to seven days. Most people recover without treatment, but in some cases the diarrhea is so severe hospital care is needed."  Death can also result but is rare.

People who bought nuts this fall at the farm stand on Highway 18 are advised to throw them away.  Schmidt Farm nuts processed and sold elsewhere appear not to be affected.

The Schmidt Farm's hazelnut and walnut groves lie directly across Highway 18 from the entrance to Riverbend Landfill.  The farm is widely believed to be the unnamed farm mentioned frequently in the dump's expansion application as experiencing no adverse affects from its proximity to the landfill.

While the source of the salmonella outbreak has not been determined, nuts and other crops can be contaminated by contact with birds, including seagulls, carrying salmonella.  The hundreds of seagulls and other birds that visited the landfill this fall could well carry salmonella from rotting food and animal corpses across the street to the Schmidt Farm orchards.

Alternatively, trucks dumping waste at the landfill could carry the organism away on their tires.  Neighbors and commuters have long complained about the dust that accumulates at the landfill entrance to be kicked up by passing vehicles.  The hazelnut and walnut trees along the highway are in the path of these dust clouds.

For more information about the health hazard posed by salmonellosis, check the Oregon Health Authority website.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Comments Due on Wetlands Permit - Saturday, Dec 17!

The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) is considering whether to issue a permit to allow Waste Management to disturb wetlands adjacent (yes, adjacent) to Riverbend Landfill in order to construct a road and expand the dump.  Many of us have already commented that there is no need for this road or this expansion.  Please make your voice heard -- click the link below to submit your comment to DSL by 5:00 PM Saturday, December 17!  [The link takes you to a box that describes the project; click Add at the bottom of the box to type your comments in.]

Dear Friends,

Riverbend Landfill is like the energizer bunny that keeps going.  Now, they are applying for a Division of State Lands Permit to fill in wetlands to build a road next to Highway 18.  This road will be higher than Highway 18.

The DSL application states that they need the road to "provide internal landfill traffic, to maintain traffic safety, and to allow private access to an area south of Module 11 reserved for a Green Technology facility."  [Note:  "Module 11" is the major portion of the proposed expansion currently on appeal at the Oregon Court of Appeals.]

There are several problems, the first being that this road leads out of the internal landfill traffic.

Will the Green Technology Facility actually be built?  The Yamhill County Site Design Review approval, passed despite local opposition including from the City of McMinnville, is tied up in court, but that did not stop Yamhill County from issuing a  Land Use Compatibility Statement to the Division of State Lands.

The Green Technology facility is years down the road (Yamhill County said seven, after expansion receives all approvals), but if they fill up the landfill expansion area before that, then they won't have to build the facility at all.

To add to the uncertainty, Waste Management (Riverbend's Texas-based corporate owner) has already publicly stated that while local management would like to build a green technology facility, it is up to corporate management to actually fund the project and there are no guarantees, especially this far away from Oregon's centers of population.

Just what is a "Green Technology Facility"?  What I heard was a facility that takes paper and cardboard and other burnables to make pellets for an energy plant to burn.  There was no mention of a garbage burner at the site, so the pellets would have to be hauled somewhere.  Maybe we should just recycle the paper and cardboard to make more paper and cardboard, instead of burning it.

Is all of this a good reason to build the access road this summer?  Or is there an unstated motive.

The site the proposed road will access was home to Mulkey's RV Park, which made 85 sites available for RV hook-ups.  Waste Management recently closed it.  Gone are 15 tourist sites and 70 affordable long-term sites.  If the proposed road is mainly to support the Green Tech facility, they could have left Mulkey's open another 7 years.

So what is the reason for Waste Management's actions?

I think that they need dirt.

The existing landfill will reach capacity next year and needs about a half million cubic yards of dirt for final cover, but since the landfill is surrounded by water and Highway 18, they can't get it on site.  Even the 27 acre expansion will be boxed in by water and Highway 18.

The dirt they need to close the existing landfill equals 95 acres of farm land mined three feet deep.  The new landfill will need hundreds of thousands of cubic yards more for perimeter berms, daily cover, and final cover.

They certainly cannot get that much dirt out of a 27 acre site and cover it with garbage at the same time.  But perhaps they could from the RV park area and the rest of the adjacent farmland they own, including the Green Tech site.

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) already gave Riverbend blanket approval for their entire site, wetlands, farm lands, uplands, and lowlands.  Yamhill County doesn't regulate dirt mining.

If you feel that your vision of Yamhill Wine Country (voted the world's best wine tourist location) doesn't include a larger mountain of garbage and more acres of devastated  farm land, please take the time to just tell the Oregon Division of State Lands "NO". 

It takes just a couple of minutes.  Click on the link below, and you can comment on line with no fuss, no muss.

Thank you.

Leonard Rydell, P.E., P.L.S., W.R.E.


Application No. APP-0059053, Yamhill County, Southern Tributary of South Yamhill River, Township 5 South, Range 5 West, Section 1

An Oregon Regulatory project application has been received by the Oregon Department of State Lands for a project at the location described above.
We are interested in your comments on this proposal. The comment period on this application ends at 5:00 pm on December 17, 2016.

You may view the application details on our website at:

You can read and submit comments or download a copy of the application via the web site. You can also submit comments or request a copy of the application by fax (503-378-4844), by phone (call 503-986-5200 and ask for the resource coordinator assigned to this project), or via US Mail.

All comments will be evaluated and carefully considered before making the authorization decision. Copies of the applicable laws and rules are available on the Department's web site.  

We would be pleased to answer your questions or provide additional information. Please do not hesitate to call the Department of State Lands.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Waste Management to Stop Accepting Metro Waste

It's official.  Riverbend Landfill is pulling the plug on waste from Metro.  (Metro is the agency that handles garbage for Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties.)  After years of ignoring citizens' concerns about the leaking, stench-producing dump, Metro appears to be admitting that January 2017 will be the last month its garbage will be deposited next to the South Yamhill River.

Waste Management (WM, Riverbend's Texas-based corporate owner) told Metro earlier this week:

"Because of legal issues and emerging capacity limitations, Waste Management has decided that Riverbend Landfill will no longer be an available option for Metro-area waste for at least the next few months and, potentially, years. WM is seeking to prolong the life of Riverbend until its legal appeals and lateral expansion have been resolved. WM also intends to serve its local, coastal and Willamette Valley customer base while these legal issues are resolved." 

The waste involved comes mainly from Washington County, but represents about 2/3 of the waste deposited at Riverbend in any given month (about 320,000 tons).  If this waste were to continue to come to Riverbend, the landfill would reach capacity around July 1, 2016.  Restricting waste to Yamhill County and coastal areas will add an additional ten months to the landfill's life.

Metro staff interprets WM's statement to mean that "Riverbend will only be available during a transitional period to Columbia Ridge (ending on about February 1).  Riverbend will remain available but only in the case of an emergency or unusual circumstance after February 1."  Metro is in the process of making arrangements to send garbage to either Columbia Ridge or Coffin Butte landfills after that date
Although Waste Management is only now acknowledging that the landfill will have to shut its doors if waste keeps pouring in, that particular bit of handwriting has been on the wall for quite some time.  The Oregon Court of Appeals is currently considering appeals by both WM and landfill opponents of a County-approved expansion.  Any decision by the COA could be appealed to the state Supreme Court, a process that could take years.  Then, should WM win its appeals, it must still obtain approvals from several state and federal agencies.

While Metro develops plans for a more responsible solution to its waste disposal needs, McMinnville waste hauler Recology is moving forward with construction of an advanced transfer station.  A local transfer station will enable Recology to take waste to any appropriate disposal site.  

It is past time for the Yamhill County Commissioners to recognize reality, stop being bull-dozed by the largest garbage company in the world, and start making plans for an environmentally sound alternative to disposing of the county's waste.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Dump de LUCS

While the state Court of Appeals (COA) continues to mull over dump appeals filed by Waste Management (WM -- Riverbend Landfill's Texas-based corporate owner) and the Stop the Dump Coalition and allies, WM has been quietly securing Yamhill County's sign-off on related land-use issues.

Specifically, since the appeals were filed in August, WM has at least twice asked the County Planning Department to sign official statements asserting that the dump complies with County land use law.  At least twice, County Planning Director Ken Friday has signed those statements.

One of the statements, called a "Land Use Affidavit," accompanied an application WM made to the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) and the federal Army Corps of Engineers (ACE).  The application seeks permits WM needs in order to proceed with its proposed 29-acre dump expansion.

The problem is, that expansion is on appeal.  Until the Court of Appeals rules, the County has no idea whether the expansion complies with its land use laws.  Planning Director Friday, who signed the affidavit, apparently tried to hedge his claim by checking the box that says the proposed work will comply when the landfill obtains its site design review and floodplain development permits -- which would of course be "never" if dump opponents win the lawsuit.

The second statement is a "Land Use Compatibility Statement" (LUCS) WM submitted to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in November when WM asked DEQ to allow it to dump 490,000 tons of additional garbage on top of the waste already in place, including in the three original unlined cells.

The problem is, under state law, an existing landfill cannot be enlarged unless the County first finds that the enlargement will not cause a significant adverse impact on local farming practices or costs.  Yamhill County made no attempt to examine this issue before issuing the LUCS.  Moreover, adding waste atop existing cells also is part of the expansion currently on appeal.

It's not clear whether the County Planning Department is trying to mislead state agencies or merely doesn't understand state law.  Stop the Dump has asked its attorney to investigate.