Usually people go to an FAQ page looking for answers. Our FAQ page is a little different, in that it also contains OUR frequently asked questions… for which WE DON’T have answers… but would sure like to! Got one of your own? Email us and we can add it to the list!

Valley Neighbors for Environmental Quality and Safety (VNEQS) (pronounced “vee-necks”) is a compendium of Willamette Valley residents that originally came together in opposition to LU-21-047, the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application submitted by Valley Landfills/Republic Services in 2021 to expand the Coffin Butte Landfill. Thanks in large part to VNEQS efforts, this highly flawed application, after being unanimously denied by the Benton County Planning Commission, was withdrawn by the applicant in March of 2022. In researching facts for our opposition to this application, we learned that this issue was WAY bigger than this single expansion application. In this our new website we hope to share with you what we learned and, in doing so, provide clear, incontrovertible reasons for why no expansion EVER should be granted.

The landfill is NOT owned by Benton County, it is owned by Valley Landfills, a subsidiary of Republic Services –  a for-profit corporation based in Arizona.

You are not alone! Republic Services, Benton County, DEQ… they all make it difficult to file complaints that are ‘on the record’.  Please see our Resources page for the best current way to file a complaint.

Not necessarily. In Yamhill County, after the Riverbend Landfill closed, curbside garbage rates went down or stayed flat.

Also, even if we prevent them from expanding, the landfill will not close immediately. We estimate that with no expansion, there are still roughly 14 years left. 14 years in which to come up with a better solution than landfilling our waste at Coffin Butte.

Benton County has no control over how much garbage goes into the landfill because they don’t own it.  Valley Landfills, Inc. (a subsidiary of Republic Services) does.

What’s an example of a well-sited landfill? There’s Roosevelt Landfill, in eastern Klickitat County, Washington (owned and operated by Republic Services). “Weather, geology, and proximity to rail, pipeline, and barge transportation facilities are key reasons the Roosevelt facility is ideally located. The weather is dry, with less than 8 ½ inches of rain a year to complicate operations and the chemistry of decomposition. The landfill is located in a natural geologic bowl formed by millions of years of action by volcanoes, wind and water, underlain by 300 feet of solid clay and 1,500 feet of basalt lava. Geologists say it would take 15,000 years for water to percolate through those formations. And Roosevelt is unique in its proximity to river barges, railways, and the Williams natural gas pipeline, all within a mile or two of the landfill.” [source]

A landfill with virtually identical conditions exists in Oregon, just across the Columbia River from the Roosevelt Landfill: WMI’s Columbia Ridge Landfill in Gilliam County.

These are two examples of landfills sited well: dry climate, deep clay underlayment, far from urban centers.

That being said, landfilling should still be the option of last resort for dealing with solid waste. Just sending our garbage to another landfill is not a long-term solution.

Since over 90% of the garbage emplaced at Coffin Butte comes from outside Benton County, think of all those truck trips NOT being made in our direction!

Again: the idea is to look towards the future. Garbage can be transported by rail; trucks only need to transport garbage as far as the local railway transfer station, then trains would take over from there. Coupled with that, how about a future where vehicles are converted to clean fuels like electricity or hydrogen? And of course all this needs to be coupled with source reduction — landfills should be the destination of last resort for solid waste materials that cannot otherwise be recovered/diverted/re-used.

It is a complicated problem, but not unsolvable. Solutions exist (Ie-RM?), they just need to be implemented. Political will needs to be exercised at the state and national level.

But meanwhile: we need to stop kicking the (garbage) can down the road with this once-upon-a-time-was-going-to-close-in-the-year-2000 landfill, stop expanding it once and for all, and take that time to plan for a post-closure future.

Good question! This is one of those FAQs for which we don’t have an answer, but would like to!