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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Just Say No

The City of McMinnville is considering pulling its garbage from Riverbend Landfill.  Not garbage already buried in Trash Mountain, but all garbage generated by the City and its residents and businesses going forward.

This Tuesday, September 26, the McMinnville City Council will hear a presentation from Recology about the possible effects of this anticipated City decision.  Recology (formerly Western Oregon Waste) is the company that picks up McMinnville garbage and hauls it to the dump.

Although Recology is expected to tell the Council that garbage rates may rise (a little) if McMinnville follows through on its proposal to keep new garbage out of Riverbend, the City would actually benefit by no longer contributing to a current economic and liveability liability and a potential environmental disaster on its doorstep.

It would be a huge victory if McMinnville were to just say "no" to sending more garbage to Riverbend Landfill.

If you are a McMinnville resident or operate a business in McMinnville, please attend the City Council meeting!  Tell the Council you support its plan to stop sending your garbage to the leaking, smelly, seismically unstable dump by the river.

WHAT:   McMinnville City Council Meeting
WHEN:  Tuesday September 26th, 7:00 PM
WHERE: McMinnville Civic Hall, 200 NE 2nd St
WHY:     To support the plan to stop sending McMinnville's trash to Riverbend Landfill

If you can't attend the meeting, contact your Councilor at http://www.mcminnvilleoregon.gov/citycouncil to let her/him know the City should stop sending your trash to Riverbend Landfill.

THANK YOU for your help.  We are making progress!  If you have questions about this exciting new development, contact Ilsa Perse, President of the Stop the Dump Coalition, at info@stopthedumpcoalition.org.

Monday, September 4, 2017

They go

All the time things go on and
  on. They go
    on.

Monday, August 28, 2017

DEQ Asked to Reconsider Vertical Expansion Approval


Earlier this year the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved a side-slope modification (vertical expansion) of Riverbend Landfill (the dump).  This vertical expansion will allow Waste Management, the dump's owner, to pile approximately 500,000 tons of garbage on top of the dump's three oldest, unlined, leaking cells.

On Monday, August 28th, the Stop the Dump Coalition and dump neighbors Susan Watkins and Susan Meredith filed a Petition for Reconsideration formally asking DEQ and the Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) to reverse this approval.

The Petition for Reconsideration focuses on three points:
 
1. DEQ did not make complete plans for vertical expansion available to the public for comment.  The public deserves an opportunity to comment in detail on all of the materials submitted by the applicant, Waste Management (WM), but WM did not submit most materials to DEQ until after the public comment period closed.  In fact, as noted in #2 below, WM has still not submitted all required materials.

2. The expansion design DEQ approved exceeds the "allowable slope gradient," in violation of closure requirements for dump side slopes as spelled out in OAR 340-094-0120.  That Rule is based on engineering concerns that steep side slopes may make dumps unstable.  Waste Management claims that the steeper slopes detailed in its plan will soften over time.  Yet Waste Management has still not submitted the required closure and post closure plans DEQ needs in order to make a fact-based determination that the dump will -- eventually -- meet statutory side slope approval criteria. In fact DEQ granted Waste Management's request to delay submitting these plans.  Without the plans, DEQ is basing its decision purely on speculation about what will happen to the dump in the future.

3. The vertical expansion violates state requirements that all closed landfills protect public health, safety, and the environment.  The garbage to be added will go atop dump cells that are actively under investigation for possibly leaking toxic leachate into ground water beside the South Yamhill River.  With approximately half a million tons of garbage covering the likely source of the leaks, it will be impossible to adequately study the problem, let alone remediate it. Until DEQ’s investigation is completed, any approval of the vertical expansion is premature.

Petitioners claim this expansion should not be approved until the public has fully reviewed the proposed expansion and DEQ has substantial evidence that the proposed side slope modifications will not violate the requirements of the law or endanger the public health, safety, or the environment.  Petitioners are asking DEQ and the EQC to hold a public hearing to allow the public to comment on all the materials submitted by Waste Management and that DEQ put its decision to on hold until its investigation into possible leachate leaking is concluded. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Farm Bureau Weighs In

As previously reported, the Stop the Dump Coalition and its local allies will take to the Oregon Supreme Court their appeal of the Court of Appeals (COA) decision upholding some aspects of Riverbend Landfill's proposed expansion.

STDC has been joined in this appeal by some heavy hitters: the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, 1000 Friends of Oregon, and the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation.  The Farm Bureau filed its brief today, succinctly laying out the issues.

The parties agree that state law prohibits non-farm uses (like landfills) in exclusive farm use zones if those non-farm uses impact neighboring farms by "significantly" increasing farming costs or "forcing a significant change" in farming practices.  The COA upheld Yamhill County's determination that Riverbend could get around this "significant impacts" test by compensating landowners for lost crops and extra work required due to impacts resulting from landfill activities. 

The County relied on a provision in the state law that allows a non-farm use to "mitigate" the impacts that normally result from its activities.  However, the Farm Bureau points out that mitigation should apply to the non-farm use activities -- not the existing farm activities.  The statute is clear that the applicant for a non-farm use -- in this case, Riverbend Landfill -- bears the burden, not the farmers.  But in Riverbend's case, the County approved "mitigation" that requires farmers, not the landfill, to alter practices.

The Farm Bureau argues:




"...inherent in ORS 215.296(2) is the requirement that any conditions must apply to the applicant’s proposal and must render the impact insignificant by altering the applicant’s proposal to avoid the impact or render it insignificant. The local governing body and the applicant cannot put this burden on a farmer and require that farmers’ operations be altered to avoid the impact."  Farm Bureau brief, p. 4.



Instead, "A correct interpretation of the statute requires that when a local governing body finds that the proposed non-farm use will increase the cost of farming practices significantly or force a significant change in those practices, the local governing body must require the applicant to avoid or render insignificant any changes or costs through changes to its proposal, not through imposing new obligations on surrounding farms."  Farm Bureau brief, pp. 6-7.
STDC's brief and those of the other appellants must be filed with the Court by August 10.  The County and the landfill must file their arguments within 42 days after that.  The Supreme Court is expected to hold oral argument in November and to issue a decision within a few months.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Supreme Court Accepts Stop the Dump Appeal

The Oregon Supreme Court this week agreed to review a lower court ruling in the Stop the Dump Coalition's suit to stop Riverbend Landfill's expansion.  The state Court of Appeals had held that Riverbend could expand if Yamhill County Commissioners found sufficient evidence that the expansion would not impose significant cumulative impacts on neighborhood farmers.

After that ruling, but before the Commissioners could act, Stop the Dump, its allies, and other statewide organizations with an interest in preserving farm land asked the Supreme Court to review the COA decision.  They worried that the wording of the COA ruling would put millions of acres of farm land in jeopardy by allowing non-farm uses to impinge on farming activities unless affected farms could show that farming would be significantly reduced statewide.

The Supreme Court has no legal obligation to take every appeal from the COA, so the fact that the Court has agreed to hear this case means that the Court agrees that the issues raised are significant.

Stop the Dump Coalition President Ilsa Perse is encouraged by the news.  In a press release issued today, she wrote:

Friends,

BIG NEWS!!!
At last, some excellent news on the garbage front.  The Oregon Supreme Court has just issued an Order Allowing Review of our appeal of the recent Court of Appeals decision that would have allowed Waste Management to harm local farmers, as long as they paid the farmers for the damage done to their farming practice, and their lives. 

We knew that the Appeal Court's and Yamhill County's interpretation of Oregon Land Use law was novel and, we feel, incorrect. It would have serious and detrimental implications for the preservation of Oregon’s agricultural future. If the Court of Appeals decision is allowed to stand, farming in Oregon could be severely impacted by many different non-farm uses that are allowed on exclusive farm use land.  The Supreme Court only agrees to hear 10% of the requests for review that they receive, so clearly they see the importance of resolving the issues that we raised in our appeal.

It is impossible to know if, in agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court will decide that the Court of Appeals made the right decision or, we hope, the wrong one.  The Court will not be hearing oral arguments until November, and then it could take a year or two or three to issue a decision,  But no matter how long it takes for the Supremes to decide,  Waste Management's reckless expansion onto 29 additional acres is on hold. 

This is VERY GOOD NEWS!