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BROKEN PROMISES


In the 1980 documents that preceded the approval of Riverbend Landfill at its current site, and again when Waste Management took over the operation, many promises were made to the community.  A sampling is listed below, followed by the reality of what has actually occurred at the site.

Promise:  “The site will be kept in agriculture except for approximately 20 acres which will be taken out of agricultural production for landfilling purposes and when these 20 acres are filled, a new 20 acres will be utilized; the landfilled area will be re-converted to agricultural uses."[1]

Reality:  The current landfill covers 86 acres, none of which is now, or ever again can or will be, farmed.[2]  The total operations area of Riverbend now covers over 200 acres of high value farmland on the banks of the S. Yamhill River.  The proposed expansion will cover 29 additional acres of landfilling.
 
Promise:  "The floodplain area next to the river will have been lifted out of the floodplain and become better farm ground."[3]
Reality:  The landfill has excavated large quantities of soil from the flood plain area for use as daily cover on the landfill.[4]

Promise:  "No sight contamination will result from the use" as a landfill.[1]
Reality:  The landfill, at its current 135 ft height, is highly visible, from Highway 18, all surrounding roads and land areas for miles.[6]

Promise:  "Frequent cover virtually eliminates odor."[7]
Reality:  The landfill “odor shed” reaches out onto the surrounding area for miles and can be smelled as far away as downtown McMinnville (2+ miles distant); it is often strongest at night when cover, if it were the answer, should be covering all the working faces.[8]

Promise:  Noise will be "about the same as the farm machinery." [7
]

Reality:  Noise, coming from loud back-up signal bells on trucks and other equipment, tipping/dumping activity, and landfill vehicles and machinery working the face, begins as early as 4:30 am and often continues long after operations supposedly cease.[10]


Promise:  "The surrounding property owners do not object to the landfill operation."[11]

Reality:  

  • In 1980 neighboring property owners appeared at the Board of Commissioners' hearing on the ordinance adopting the Comprehensive Plan amendment that allowed the landfill to be sited and strongly objected to the change in the Comprehensive Plan.[12] 

  • Neighbors proposed a county ballot measure in 1992 whose purpose was to oppose Riverbend becoming a Title V Regional landfill; they won the local vote but the measure was disqualified on a technicality. 

  • In 2008, when Riverbend filed their first application for expansion, community members, no longer just “the neighbors”, formed Waste Not of Yamhill County to publicly mount a campaign against expansion and press for closure of Riverbend when it reached capacity in 2014.   

  • In 2012 Waste Not of Yamhill changed its name to Stop the Dump Coalition to recognize the inclusion of our many business and individual partners in the campaign.


Promise:  Riverbend (RLI) proposed importing 850,000 tons of garbage in the ten years from 1992-2001 and a total of 1,042,450 tons in the thirty-year period 1992-2021.[13]

Reality:  RLI currently receives ~525,000 tons of municipal solid waste annually, 70% from outside Yamhill County.


Promise:  The landfill's "available volume" is 4,360,000 tons
.[15]

Reality:     During the period 1993-2006, the landfill accepted 5,748,109 tons of waste.[6] After 2006 and each year through 2014, RLI accepted more than 600,000 tons of waste. Its capacity obviously far exceeds the 4 million tons originally projected. 


 Promise:  The landfill will reach capacity in ~2040.  
Reality: 

  • If Riverbend had not accepted the significant volume of out of county waste it has since 1993,  the life of the landfill would have been 38 years, i.e. the landfill would not have reached capacity until mid-2031.
  • The landfill will reached capacity in  2014, and Riverbend began infilling waste behind the MSE-berm early in 2015. The berm section will reach capacity in early 2017.


Promise:  RLI will institute random sampling of loads brought to the landfill and will remove prohibited waste.[22]

Reality: 

  •  Riverbend officials have publicly stated that no pre-sorting of municipal solid waste/non-construction-debris waste is done before loads are either trucked to the landfill or when they are dumped at the working face. [22]
  • Until recently, no neighbor using the landfill for waste disposal reported seeing any monitoring or removal of prohibited waste, including TVs, or appliances and other easily-recycled materials, from the working face of the dump. 


Now, random monitoring occurs but one still sees items that are either outright prohibited or could have been removed for recycling prior to being “dumped”. 


  1. Exhibit A to Ordinance No. 236, p 8
  2. Plan Amendment and Zone Change Narrative, June 2008, p 36
  3. Exhibit A to Ordinance No. 236, p 4
  4. Personal observation and DEQ excavation permit correspondence
  5. Not used.
  6. Photographs.
  7. Exhibit A to Ordinance No. 236, p 6
  8. Personal observation; discussions with neighbors; comments from persons attending recent air quality meetings with DEQ and landfill representatives
  9. Not used
  10. Personal observation and discussions with neighbors
  11. Exhibit A to Ordinance No. 236, p 13
  12. Ordinance No. 236 text
  13. Riverbend Landfill Responses to Landfill Town Meeting Questions, June 11, 1992, pp 1-2
  14. Not used.
  15. Riverbend Landfill Responses to Landfill Town Meeting Questions, June 11, 1992, p 2
  16. Not used
  17. Not used.
  18. Not used
  19. Zia Report, p 5
  20. Not used
  21. Not used
  22. Riverbend Landfill Responses to Landfill Town Meeting Questions, June 11, 1992, p 6 (Q26)


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                                                   FACTS ABOUT RIVERBEND

Riverbend Landfill is an unsightly, 13+ million ton, 140 ft high mountain of unsorted trash that emits foul and toxic odors into the surrounding community. 

This dump is 1.9 miles from McMinnville (Google Maps), on the banks of the South Yamhill River in a seismic hazard zone. An expansion of the landfill will be within yards of Highway 18, the main route from the Portland Metro area to the coast. 

Per DEQ the location of this landfill in a rainy, wet climate creates a myriad of problems that would not occur in a dry, arid location: specifically more leachate and more odorous/noxious gas production.  DEQ groundwater well sample data documents that Riverbend has leaked hazardous contaminants. Groundwater flow does not stop at the Riverbend property line. Whose property is contamination running towards?

More than 70% of Riverbend’s garbage is from outside Yamhill County. Most of this trash comes from Portland Metro.

The Mayor of Forest Grove testified at a County hearing in 2011 that his city receives $450,000 per year from hosting a transfer station by simply allowing the Metro garbage to pass through his city for less than 24 hours.  Yamhill County makes approximately twice that figure for storing this garbage forever.

The location of this dump not only impacts the current economic viability and livability of nearby towns and cities but also the opportunities for the continued new business development required for a healthy, viable community.  (see McMinnville City Council letter, January 2014). 

Tourists ask:  How can a landfill be allowed in the heart of wine country?

Realtors have lost sales when clients realize the prospective property lies near, or is in sight of, Riverbend.   Property values are negatively impacted by their location in the area of the landfill.


ODOR:

Riverbend Landfill smells.  Decaying garbage odor, as well as rotten egg odor (Hydrogen Sulfide gas) is often detected at distances of 2 miles or more:  Albertson’s, Roth’s, Lowe’s, Linfield College, homes on Old Sheridan Highway, in McMinnville on Third Street and other in-town locations.

According to County records, there are approximately 600 individual private landowners within the 3 mile radius of Riverbend Landfill.  The vast majority of them lie in the “smell shed” of Riverbend, estimated to include a 2.5 mile radius around the landfill.

WM acknowledges there is an odor problem at Riverbend.  One WM executive publicly stated at a DEQ Air Quality meeting that of the 52 West Coast landfills that he is responsible for, only 2 of them have odor issues; Riverbend is one of the two.

A professional air quality engineer strongly recommended that WM, like other facilities where odors are an issue (stockyards, chemical plants, etc.), invest in real-time odor-detection equipment around the landfill in order to clearly identify the chemical nature of the odor(s) and begin a remediation program.  DEQ states they are unable to require WM to implement such monitoring equipment; consequently nothing has been done.


According to DEQ, the larger a landfill gets, the more noxious emissions and air pollutants, including methane and CO2, it will emit.  WM claims the Riverbend gas collection system collects a higher percentage of methane than the EPA theoretical standard for methane gas collection of 75%, but the gas not collected cannot be measured so the actual percentage of gas collected vs. the amount escaping collection is unknown.  

NOISE:

Noise at RBL has been recorded on numerous occasions to be above that allowed in Oregon’s state noise regulations. According to Yamhill County, noise generated by Riverbend is regulated by state law and is exempt from the County's noise ordinance;  therefore, county sheriff has no authority to regulate noise generated at the landfill. The state is not currently enforcing its existing noise regulations.


PROPOSED EXPANSION:

Yamhill County recently enacted an ordinance which rezoned the existing landfill site from Public Works & Safety back to EFU farmland, allowing the existing landfill on farmland to expand onto adjacent farmland. 

The proposed expansion, as outlined by WM preliminary drawings, will cover over 50 acres, including 29 acres for landfilling and a small area of unspecified "green technology.”   The proposed expansion area includes high value (Class I & II) agricultural soils and is directly adjacent to Highway 18.

In January 2014 the City Council of McMinnville sent a letter to the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners which outlined their concerns about the negative impact Riverbend Landfill on the city and stated their opposition to the rezoning of the EFU land in order to allow further landfill expansion

The proposed expansion area will overlap existing piles of garbage. These older areas of the landfill are engineered to withstand a much smaller earthquake than is now predicted for the area. This will be like building a tall new large building on a foundation designed for a small shed. This is NOT a recipe for ensuring public safety.


Expansion will displace Mulkey's RV Park and the commercial farming operations now taking place on the proposed expansion area.

The new rezoning ordinance also includes a requirement for a permit for an onsite green tech facility to be filed within seven years after the rezoning approval. This does not mean that WM must construct a “green” tech facility at Riverbend within seven years; only that they must have filed a permit to start the process.


Baring any significant technological breakthroughs, implementation of alternative technology will increase tipping fees to $60 or higher per ton; this increase will be passed on to ratepayers.  This could allow for a possible reversal of this requirement by the county in the future.




Who We Are

Waste Not of Yamhill County Board of Directors

Waste Not of Yamhill County, a 501(c)(4) organization, is the official arm of the Stop the Dump Coalition. We raise the funds and hire the lawyers. Waste Not was born in 2009 when farmers, neighbors, and local businesses joined together to stop expansion of Riverbend Landfill. Our membership has changed over the years but our purpose and dedication have remained constant.


​​​STOP the Dump Coalition