Friday, April 6, 2018

Title V Meeting Set for April 19

Riverbend Landfill's Title V Air Quality permit requires Waste Management to hold a "community meeting" twice yearly.  The next one has just been scheduled, for Thursday, April 19, at 7:00 pm at Chemeketa Community College in McMinnville.

Usually these meetings consist of a list of steps Waste Management has taken to reduce emissions and odor from the landfill -- always failed steps, as it turns out.  (Have you driven past the dump lately?  Pee-yoo!)  Then dump managers tell us what they plan to do in the next few months to produce more odor, like open up old cells either to add additional waste or to install new wells, which are supposed to (but never do) reduce odors.

One item we'd love to see on the agenda is the result of the year-long odor survey undertaken by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in 2017.  Specially trained members of DEQ's staff visited the dump and surrounding neighborhood several times during the year to measure the presence and intensity of odors.

Once those measurements are gathered, staff analysts at a DEQ lab must examine the data with respect to other factors such as local wind patterns, according to Claudia Davis of DEQ's Air Quality division.  DEQ will also contact Riverbend for its input.  If DEQ staff then believes the existing odor might amount to a nuisance, it forwards its information to a Nuisance Odor Panel comprised of DEQ senior or executive managers who will decide whether to issue Riverbend a "Notice of Suspected Nuisance."

The Panel is supposed to issue its evaluation within three weeks after receiving the request for review.  If the Panel finds a possible nuisance, DEQ will ask Riverbend to enter into a "best practices" agreement to reduce odors.

This has always been the sticking point with odors at Riverbend:  whether there are "practices" Waste Management can implement that would reduce the smell.  There's one obvious solution, of course:  Stop taking waste that smells!

Please come to the meeting to share your opinions with Waste Management!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Yamhill County Alerts!

Worried about the Big One?  Fretting over fire?  Mudslides?  Road closures?  Zombie apocalypse?

Don't be left in the dark!  Yamhill County will now ALERT you about emergencies that could affect your home, business, or family with warnings that come straight to your mobile or land line phone and email.

Recent Oregon state reports have highlighted the danger from "ordinary" (up to Magnitude 8.0 in Portland) and Cascadian subduction zone (M9.0!) earthquakes in western Oregon.  We've all seen video of the destructive force of mudslides and fires in Washington and California as well as here in Oregon.

A few moments warning (which is about all we will get with an earthquake) can give people a chance to evacuate vulnerable buildings or to seek appropriate cover.  Alerts and evacuation notices can also give us the chance to escape before a fire or landslide overwhelms our neighborhoods.

To get the alerts, you need to create an account with the County's provider, Everbridge, which you reach via the Yamhill County web page.  You can include several phones on each account.

Here at the blog we often express concern about the harm a big earthquake will cause to the South Yamhill River when Riverbend Landfill collapses.  That big quake will also affect a great many homes and businesses.  The quake is overdue; it's time for us to ensure that we have three months' worth of food and water stored in a "safe," accessible area and that our personal "escape" backpacks (food and water, first aid, walking shoes and socks, blanket, change of clothes) are always ready to go.

The quake -- or the fire or the slide or even the zombies -- might not come in our lifetimes.  Or they might hit tomorrow.

Give yourself a chance to be safe!  Go to to sign up.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

DEQ Fines Dump for Leachate Release

Back in September 2017, Riverbend Landfill managers neglected to check the work of a contractor at the dump.  When the contractor failed to hook up a pipe at the end of its job, 2,700 gallons of leachate discharged onto land adjacent to the dump and into a creek that runs into the South Yamhill River.  The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has now fined Riverbend $8,400 for this breach of its permit.

To operate the dump, Riverbend needs permits from both Yamhill County and DEQ.  DEQ's permit was issued in 1999 and originally intended to terminate December 1, 2009.  DEQ has not moved to terminate the permit, however, citing Stop the Dump Coalition and allies' efforts to block renewal of Yamhill County's permit.  The continued viability of the County permit is currently before the State Supreme Court.

While the County permit covers land use concerns, the DEQ permit addresses operational matters -- like ensuring that leachate (contaminated liquid seeping from the dump) is contained and doesn't enter surrounding lands or waters.  As stated by DEQ in announcing the fine, leachate "can contain a host of harmful pollutants – including ammonia and bacteria. When released to waters of the state, leachate can harm aquatic life and impair recreational, commercial and agricultural uses of water bodies. It can also create offensive odors and threaten public health."

Section 3.6 of the 1999 permit provides that "[v]iolation of permit conditions will subject the permittee to civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each day of each violation."  Actual fines are calculated according to an arcane formula enshrined in state regulations.  In this case, the violation continued for three days before landfill workers discovered the leak.  (To its credit, Riverbend promptly acted to clean up contaminated soil -- by dumping it in the landfill.)

The fine could have been much worse.  As noted above, the permit and its penalty language is 18 years old.  Modern permits for similar activities contain the potential for much larger fines -- up to $25,000 per day of violation.  Stop the Dump Coalition and landfill neighbors have asked DEQ to update Riverbend's permit for precisely this reason.

Read more about the breach and DEQ's response here.  Riverbend Landfill has until February 19, 2018, to appeal the fine.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

EQC Receives Yinger Report

Stop the Dump Coalition President Ilsa Perse and member Brian Doyle delivered the recent Yinger Report to the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) at last week's EQC meeting.  The report, prepared by hydrologist Mark Yinger, uses data prepared by consultants hired by Waste Management to show that leachate is indeed leaking from Riverbend Landfill.

Waste Management (WM) is the Texas-based corporate owner of the landfill.

As reported on this blog (see sidebar), Yinger, a well-respected hydro-geologist who specializes in landfill hydrology, reported in late December 2017 that WM's own data confirm that leachate is not only leaking from the oldest, unlined areas of Riverbend Landfill but has already impacted groundwater quality at two early detection monitoring wells.

Yinger's report confirmed an earlier study he submitted in 2015, also based on WM data.  That report in turn confirmed an analysis prepared several years earlier by Tim Steiber, former Director of the Yamhill County Soil and Water District.

All this information has been submitted to the EQC before, with no action by the Commission or the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), which the Commission leads.  Stop the Dump is hopeful that newly-appointed Commissioners and new Director Richard Whitman will treat this information differently and require a thorough review of ground water contamination at the landfill. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It's Official: Riverbend Leaks

Mark Yinger, a well-respected hydro-geologist who specializes in landfill hydrology, reported in late December 2017 that leachate is not only leaking from the oldest, unlined areas of Riverbend Landfill but has already impacted groundwater quality at two early detection monitoring wells.

Yinger was hired by Stop the Dump Coalition to analyze the detailed Annual Environmental Monitoring Reports (AEMR) submitted to the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) by Waste Management, Inc., the dump's Texas-based corporate owner.

Yinger studied groundwater tests from two monitoring wells, MW-5A and MW-12A, the closest down-gradient wells to the oldest unlined areas (cells) of the landfill.  Data from these wells indicate that leachate leaking from soil-lined waste cells has impacted groundwater quality.  Moreover, the magnitude of the impact to groundwater is increasing at an accelerating rate.

An earlier Yinger report analyzed AEMR data through 2014. That report concluded that From 1992 through 2014, the concentrations of chlorobenzene and 1,4-dichlorobenzene have not decreased, but have in fact at times increased…. Landfill gas extraction, which began in 1997, has not reduced the concentration of chlorobenzene and 1,4-dichlorobenzene in groundwater at MW-5A.”  These chemicals are "leachate indicators." If they are present at the monitoring sites, so is leachate from the dump.

The new report confirms the earlier findings and notes that "concentrations of the leachate indicators...have increased at compliance monitoring well MW-12A, and by 2016 exceeded site specific concentration limits.... The concentrations of the leachate indicators at MW-5A are much higher than the site specific concentration limits established for compliance well MW-12A."

"Site specific concentration limits" are maximums established by law. DEQ is aware of these exceedences, yet recently permitted Waste Management to pile 500,000 new tons of garbage on top of the leaking cells.

Yinger’s report corroborates the concerns of citizens and Stop the Dump Coalition that effective cleanup will be impossible once the leaks are buried under the additional garbage.  STDC has called on DEQ to halt the addition of new waste until the violations cited by the Yinger report are addressed.

You can ask DEQ to take action. The state Environmental Quality Commission, which runs DEQ, is meeting January 18 in Portland.  Attend or call in (info available from DEQ by January 11) to make your voice heard!