Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Riverbend Community Meeting Coming Up

Waste Management (WM), the Texas-based corporation that owns Riverbend Landfill, will hold a "community meeting" November 15 at Chemeketa Community College.  The public is invited.

WM is required by the landfill's Title V Air Quality Permit to hold semi-annual meetings to inform the public about activities at the dump that affect our air.  The McMinnville area has relatively clean air.  This means, unfortunately, that industries like landfills are allowed to pollute it.

The waste decomposing at Riverbend emits a variety of gases.  Some of these, like methane and carbon dioxide, are harmful to the environment (both methane and carbon dioxide are greenhouse gases, with methane being about 20 times more damaging than CO2).  Others, like hydrogen sulfide, contribute to Riverbend's horrible odor. Though hydrogen sulfide makes up only about 1% of the gas produced by landfills, it is the primary culprit behind a landfill's foul, rotten egg smell.  Another chemical, sulfur dioxide, is toxic, with a pungent, irritating smell.

Riverbend captures methane to burn, converting it to electricity that is sold to McMinnville Water & Light.  For decades now, the landfill has tried to reduce the odor by capturing more gas with wells and pipes embedded throughout the waste.  Anyone who lives or works nearby (ie, within, say two-plus miles) or who commutes past the dump knows how well Riverbend's efforts have worked:  not at all.

In fact, Riverbend's odor is so bad that the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is currently investigating it.  Yet, the landfill is about to begin installation of "additional gas collection infrastructure," which requires excavation of existing waste cells, allowing even more odor-producing gas to escape.

Come to the meeting to find out how WM plans to "control" odor this time!  Bring your questions about other topics, too, including seagulls (yes, they are back!), the vertical expansion that DEQ just approved (the one that will add a year's worth of waste to the top of the original unlined, non-seismically engineered cells), the recent leak from the leachate holding pond, and so much more!

Title V Community Meeting
Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at 7:00 PM (come at 6:00 for pizza and chitchat!)
Chemeketa Community College
Building 1, Room 105
288 NE Norton Lane
McMinnville, OR 97128

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 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

Monday, September 4, 2017

They go

All the time things go on and
  on. They go

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.