Letters to the Editor, June 25, 2021

Dump the pretense

Last week, word leaked that Riverbend Landfill was “closing.” Folks who have worked for more than 14 years to prevent dump expansion were pleased but wary, and for good reason.

Managers don’t just lock the gates and walk away when dumps reach capacity, which for Riverbend is 12,750,200 tons.

A dump is supposed to file a detailed plan with state Department of Environmental Quality five years before reaching capacity, outlining in granular detail a closure plan. Once closed, it is supposed to undergo monitoring for continuing toxic leachate leaks and Clean Air Act violations for decades to come.

What’s more, it’s our understanding that once closed, it’s impossible for a dump to re-open. Instead of simply closing down in the orderly fashion prescribed in the law, Waste Management Inc., the Houston-based garbage behemoth that owns Riverbend, is gaming the system. Its approach is to fill the dump almost to capacity, then pause, leaving local communities in the lurch, and hope political winds will change so the whole expansion application process can be launched anew. The company’s PR campaign began with a June 18 letter in which it claims to provide a “steady revenue stream of more than $1million/year” to the county.

But records from 2017 to 2020 show the county has only been getting $250,000 a year. Without Metro’s trash, there is no million dollars a year, and that trash is never coming back. The letter refers to “delays related to our expansion plans...” The “delays” are legal losses, beginning with the Oregon Supreme Court, then the Court of Appeals, then Yamhill County and most recently the state Land Use Board of Appeals — decisively. Waste Management’s overseers are up a creek. Let’s hope that DEQ doesn’t give them any more paddles, that it simply tells them to stop playing games and file that closure plan.

Ilsa Perse



Tom Hammer

Landfills on the wet side of the Cascades have had their day. Future garbage will go by rail to the dry side. Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada.

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