By News-Register staff • 

DEQ approves landfill berm

Marcus Larson/News-Register file photoThe western edge of Riverbend Landfill.
Marcus Larson/News-Register file photo
The western edge of Riverbend Landfill.

The Department of Environmental Quality announced Thursday evening it has approved Riverbend Landfill's controversial plan to increase its capacity by building a mechanically-stabilized earthen berm to rise 40-feet along the highway side of the landfill.

After extensive public input, much of it in opposition, DEQ said it  issued the permit because the "project met all applicable state and federal environmental laws."

The decision comes as a lifeline for the landfill, in operation since 1982. Now owned by Houston-based Waste Management, Inc., it was nearing capacity and was expected to run out of room sometime in 2014.

The berm will provide an additional 1 million cubic yards of waste, approximately two years of operating life. The berm will increase the area of the landfill by four acres but won’t increase its overall height.

Final approval was likely as DEQ issued tentative approval in February.  

DEQ Permit Engineer Bob Schwarz said he studied the comments and engineer reports extensively before preparing his final report recommending approval.

The company initially proposed berms along the river side of the site as well, but scaled back in the face of intense opposition.

At this point, the DEQ decision is final and construction on the berm is expected to begin soon. However, the matter could be appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

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