Rural counties depend on landfill business

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Neighboring farmers and vineyards were outraged. “Welcome to McDumpville,” screamed one website. The Willamette Valley Winegrowers Association declared the landfill would ruin the “view-shed,” “smell-shed” and reputation of local products. “No offense to those from Arlington, Oregon, but we don’t want our ‘food and wine haven’ to look and smell like your town,” one resident wrote in a letter to the editor.

Riverbend is especially unpopular because of the 42 inches of rain it gets each year, which makes the landfill smellier than its eastern counterparts and raises concerns about the fact that it’s in a floodplain. And some residents resent that what started out as a locally owned county dump now accepts waste from as far as Washington County, after being bought by a national waste company, Sanifill, that eventually merged with Waste Management.

Arlington-landfill-rail-yard_0254
A “top pick” grabs one of the 32-ton rail containers filled with trash from Seattle or Kitsap County, Wash., to hand off to one of the trucks that will take it up to the Columbia Ridge Landfill.

Waste Management spent more than half a million dollars arguing its strongest case: “Yamhill County Needs Riverbend Landfill.” It advertised that garbage rates would go up in the county by as much as 255% if the landfill shut down. It commissioned an economic impact study from ECONorthwest, which estimated the long-term economic benefit of expanding the landfill would be 24 construction jobs, $740,000 in host fees and $5.3 million in local and regional spending every year for the 25 years it would take Riverbend to reach capacity again.

County residents voted in favor of the landfill expansion on a ballot initiative in November 2008. “When it’s a pocketbook issue you can almost always figure out how Oregon voters are going to vote,” says Leslie Lewis, chair of the county commission.

But the landfill’s fate was still uncertain. The county planning department voted 7-0 against it in January 2009 and the county ordered a third-party study on landfill alternatives. The report, released in October, concluded that sending trash to other landfills would be more expensive and there are currently no viable alternative technologies.

In December the three-member county commission approved the expansion 2-0, with one commissioner abstaining because her husband works for one of Riverbend’s major partners.

Maybe Waste Management won over Yamhill County by compromising on the proposed height of the addition; maybe it won by simply outspending its opponents more than 100 to 1. Or maybe the landfill expansion just made more sense than sending the trash to say, Arlington, which would cost money and jobs and put an end to the discount disposal costs that residents and businesses now enjoy.



 

More Articles

Inside the Box

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GINA BINOLE

Screening for “culture fit” has become an essential part of the hiring process. But do like-minded employees actually build strong companies — or merely breed consensus culture?


Read more...

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

Loose Talk

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

When gossip crosses the line.


Read more...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.


Read more...

Reader Input: Rx for Health Care

July/August 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers how Obamacare has impacted their business.


Read more...

Farm in a Box

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.


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