Home Back Issues February 2010 Rural counties depend on landfill business

Rural counties depend on landfill business

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Article Index
Rural counties depend on landfill business
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6, Reader Comments

Small towns where trash equals cash are increasingly dependent on the huge companies that own Oregon’s dumps.

STORY BY ADRIANNE JEFFRIES // PHOTOS BY GARY OGILVIE
Arlington-Landfill-pushing-garbage_2936
The Columbia Ridge landfill 10 miles south of Arlington takes in one-third of the 6.5 million tons of trash disposed of in Oregon every year. It also provides Gilliam County with jobs and cash.

Arlington, population 610, gets a lot of traffic for a city with no stoplights. Eighty trucks rumble down Main Street daily, circling the downtown on their way to the biggest municipal solid-waste dump in the state.

The Columbia Ridge Landfill is 10 miles south of Arlington, neighbored by a few ranches and dozens of wind turbines spaced generously across the brown, windy plain. If viewed from above, it would look like a huge trash heap being smashed into the side of a small mountain. The sheer size is even more impressive once you realize that half the mountain is underground. The stench is wet and sulphurous.

Six-and-a-half million tons of trash is disposed of in Oregon every year. More than a third goes to Arlington, where almost 20 years’ worth of Seattle’s and Portland’s trash is buried.

Before the dump came to town in 1987, Arlington was in bad shape. The family farms that were the backbone of the local economy were dying, eventually dwindling from 350 to 50. Locals joked that the region’s two exports were wheat and kids, who moved away because there were no jobs.

The nation’s largest waste company, Waste Management, asked Gilliam County if it would be interested in being the “willing host community” for a large regional solid-waste facility. Locals were more than willing after they learned it would bring at least 35 family-wage jobs. Gilliam County Judge Laura Pryor and Arlington Mayor Dennis Gronquist went to bat for the landfill during months of land use hearings, public opposition and media scrutiny between 1987 and 1989 (“We really want Seattle’s garbage,” Pryor told the Associated Press). Most of the resistance during the two-year permitting process actually came from west of the Cascades, where people argued that trash could fly out of trucks on its way from Portland and land in the scenic area of the Columbia Gorge.



 

More Articles

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper reporters move into brand journalism.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kim Ierian, President of Concorde Career Colleges, and Deborah Edward, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, share their recent reads.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits announced

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

100NP14logo4WebOregon Business magazine has named the sixth annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon.


Read more...

The Backstory

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

In our cover story this month, Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, discuss their rapidly growing businesses and Portland’s red hot food scene. The conversation provides an interesting lens through which to explore trends in the grocery store and restaurant sectors.


Read more...

The Alchemist

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

David Howitt explains why Portland consumer brands like Stumptown and Voodoo Doughnuts are taking the world by storm.


Read more...

Measure 91: What Oregon Businesses Need to Know

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
91 thumbBY DIANE BUISMAN

Some common misconceptions employers have about marijuana.


Read more...

Innovation: a critique

News
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1008 innovation thumbBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS