Sponsored by Oregon Business

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.

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

Reader Input: Made in Oregon

November/December 2015
Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Two trends dominate the manufacturing sector: onshoring and the rise of small-scale production manufacturing, known as the "maker economy."


Hot Topics/Cool Talks: Tinker, Tailor, Portland Maker

The Latest
Friday, November 20, 2015



Tech to Table

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Power Lunch at the Barn Light Cafe & Bar in Eugene.


Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


The Shift to Community Health Care

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A conversation with Patrick Curran, CEO of CareOregon.


Have a baby and keep a job? It won’t be easy in Portland

The Latest
Friday, October 02, 2015
100115kimblogthumbBY KIM MOORE

Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.


100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02