By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Whiteson hearing draws a crowd

Tim Spencer, DEQ project manager, said the agency will continue to take written testimony until 5 p.m. Thursday, March 28. It should be directed to Holly Pence, DEQ Solid Waste Permit Coordinator, at 2020 S.W. Fourth Ave., Suite 400, Portland, OR 97201, or

A number of issues were raised, primarily pertaining to the potential for seepage into groundwater reserves or the river, a continuous topic during recent hearings on a park the county wants to establish on adjacent acreage.

“We did try to keep the focus on the draft permit,” Spencer said. “Some questions came up indirectly related to the park development,” he said, but for the most part, people focused on the old landfill itself.

“We talked quite a bit about the groundwater monitoring and discussed the possibility of sampling domestic wells near the landfill to respond to neighbors’ concerns and assure them their water is safe and not affected by the landfill,” he said. “Testing of their wells indicating the water is safe is the kind of proof they would feel more comfortable with.”

A new condition being proposed in the renewal would require the county to evaluate the ecological risk from riverbank seeps.

Though the county conducted extensive sampling in 2009 and 2012, which led a DEQ toxicologist to conclude the seeps were not a risk to human health or the water quality in the river, Spencer said it’s slated for a closer look anyway. He said it’s possible the seeps pose some level of risk to small creatures living in river bottom sediment.

Sherrie Mathison, solid waste management analyst for the county, said a new round of testing is already under way in anticipation of such a requirement.

Another new condition would require the county to demonstrate an ability to cover the cost of severe flooding, erosion or earthquake damage. The county said an outside party would be brought in to make the assessment.

A third is related, at least indirectly, to the county’s park plans. It proposes a thousand-foot buffer zone.

“The original park plan included some access to the road around the landfill, and people are concerned about what might be built in the area associated with the park,” Spencer said. “So we made a requirement that the county must notify DEQ and get DEQ approval prior to any construction or modification on or within 1,000 feet of the landfill.”

In addition, the county must maintain a complaint log, which Mathison said is something the county has always done anyway.

Whiteson has been closed for 30 years, fulfillling the 30-year post-closure monitoring requirement established by the federal government. However, most states, including Oregon, require continued care and monitoring beyond that.

After the initial 30-year period monitoring passes, the DEQ typically renews permits in 10-year increments. And that’s what it’s proposing here.

Spencer said, “We find that to be reasonable, so we can revisit questions and decide whether or not a landfill has become completely benign, which is what has to happen before we can terminate the permit.”

Web Design & Web Development by LVSYS