Coffin Butte Facts

What's going on with the landfill?

Top Five Facts

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Coffin Butte Landfill is situated in one of the wettest parts of the Willamette Valley, on geologically complex land. This poses significant environmental problems. The wetter the climate, the more methane (potent greenhouse gas; 80-plus times more potent than carbon dioxide) and leachate (“garbage juice”) it generates; the complex geology creates potential risk of ground and surface water contamination. A properly situated landfill would be in a dry climate, on clay soils, and away from human habitation. Coffin Butte Landfill is none of these. (read detailed explanation here)

Where does the garbage come from? Nearly nineteen times out of twenty, it comes from outside Benton County. This may surprise county residents, who may be thinking of the old days when the dump was a local asset. Those days are gone. Nowadays a third of the trash generated in all of Oregon ends up being trucked to Coffin Butte. The haul trucks start lining up as early as 4:30 am and arrive all day, at the average rate of a new truck every ninety seconds, from as far away as Washington State. By the time 2022 is over, they will have emplaced over a million tons of waste into Coffin Butte Landfill.

Republic Services, Inc., a for-profit, out-of-state corporation, owns and operates the landfill through a subsidiary corporation, Valley Landfills, Inc. (VLI). VLI reaps the landfill’s profits and shares a tiny percentage with Benton County through a franchise agreement. Landfills are forever. Benton County’s long-term risk and environmental liability grow with each additional ton of garbage dumped in the landfill. (read detailed explanation here)

A clause in the 2020 Landfill Franchise Agreement between Republic Services and Benton County is worded such that if any expansion onto the property south of Coffin Butte Road zoned LS (“Landfill Site”) is granted, the tonnage cap (the limit to how much garbage can be emplaced per year) goes away. (read detailed explanation here)

Another reason to not allow any new expansion: The landfill owner/operator has repeatedly flouted the rules (such as conditions of approval in land use applications for past expansions) and gotten away with it without so much as a hand-slap from the County. This does not inspire confidence that they will comply with any conditions of approval in a new application for expansion. Why should they, if they can get away with non-compliance without consequence? Why should we trust their word in the future? (read detailed explanation here)

Absolutely the goal is to only landfill that which cannot be diverted.
In other words, that “somewhere” needs to be sited in a DRY climate; NOT near waterways above or below ground; and REMOTE from human (and other?) habitation. Benton County does NOT meet any of the criteria for siting a landfill and so the County needs to work towards closure and plan for post-closure waste management.

Landfills are the worst disposal option:

Latest News

May 2024: Update (and Fire)

Word is: Republic Services has indicated they intend to re-apply to expand the landfill in June 2024. This is as much as we know right now. They have been threatening to apply again “soon” for

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We owe it to them to draw the line

[As I See It column, Corvallis Gazette-Times] As a member of Subcommittee E (“Community Education”) of the “Benton County Talks Trash” process that took place over the past year, I learned a great amount regarding

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A bigger landfill is not the plan

[As I See It column, Corvallis Gazette-Times] Some weeks ago, amid all the fliers promoting the jail bond, Benton County sent out messages concerning a community petition about the landfill. I can’t link to the

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Learning Plenty by Talking Trash

[As I See it column from Corvallis Gazette-Times] A big thanks to all of the hardworking volunteers who participated in the Benton County Talks Trash workgroup and biweekly committee meetings for the past six months.

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TrashTalk Workgroup: Future Deleted

[This was a public comment at the first Trash Talk Workgroup meeting] Gee, I’m old enough to remember back when this workgroup was going to explore the future of solid waste management in Benton County.

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New County Workgroup is Fraught

Because the last application to expand the landfill (LU-21-047) was so contentious, Benton County hired an independent third party to recommend something different. We were initially hopeful when Darren Nichols, director of the county’s Community

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The Backstory

In the summer of 2021, Republic Services applied to Benton County for permission to expand the Coffin Butte Landfill… again (they’ve expanded a number of times in the past). This sort of thing is a

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