Expansion History

The landfill has been a problem for decades, but our story begins in 2020, when Republic Services signaled their intention to expand. Here are key moments from the past few years of events.

(You can decode the acronyms with our Glossary!)

2024

July 9, 2024: RS announced they plan to submit their application to expand around July 18. Also, they were informed by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley’s office that the ongoing EPA investigation of the landfill may entail enforcement action: presumably fines and enhanced requirements of remediation.

June 2024: Republic Services has scheduled a “pre-application meeting” with the Benton County Planning Division. The pre-app meeting is the first step in the Conditional Use Permit application process – which means their application to expand is imminent.

April 2024: BCG approves “amended” DSAC bylaws with intention of resuming DSAC meetings. DSAC has not yet been reinstated. CDD Director is put on paid administrative leave pending internal investigation.

March 2024: The CDD Director brings back a revised draft of changes to DSAC bylaws, but community members alert the Board that it misrepresents the content and extent of changes, and the Board Chair remands the draft back to the Director for corrections.

March 2024: SMMP makes a determination and begins contract negotiations with an outside firm.

Jan 2024: The CDD Director brings a draft of extensive and drastic changes to DSAC bylaws to the Board, essentially stripping the community members of all autonomy. The Board sends the draft back for revision.

Jan 2024: The CDD Director informs the Planning Commission that a new landfill expansion application is in the works

2023

Dec – present: DSAC members counter the accusations against them and protest the suspension. These are stonewalled.

Nov 28, 2023: At a Board of Commissioners meeting, the Director of the county’s Community Development Department (CDD) delivers a slate of inflammatory accusations against DSAC members and asks the Board to suspend DSAC. The Board does so.

Nov 2023: BCG suddenly cancels DSAC’s planned meeting. Per its bylaws, DSAC calls its own meeting, but BCG threatens to report the meeting to the Oregon Ethics Commission.

Oct-Nov 2023: BCG stonewalls the public records requests and other necessary communications with DSAC.

Oct 2023: DSAC meets again, for the first time in over a year. BCG attempts to impose a limited agenda on the meeting, but the Committee stands on its bylaws and uses its own more open agenda, despite pressure from BCG. An audience member’s angry comment is heard or overheard, interpreted by some as a violent threat and others as an open mic moment.

Sept 2023: DSAC begins to prepare to meet again, and requests public records from BCG in order to continue work on the 2021 CCAR.

Sept 2023: The Board of Commissioners dissolves SWAC permanently.

May 2023: BCG now cancels SWAC and DSAC meetings indefinitely.

May 2023: BCG begins a process to develop a county Sustainable Materials Management Plan (SMMP) with a regional scope, to be contracted to an outside firm via a Request For Proposals (RFP). The SMMP includes a community component.

May 2023: BCTT concludes, releasing a report that’s over a thousand pages long.

Early 2023: BCTT continues to be overwhelmed, is extended and extended again. SWAC and DSAC are allowed to meet but only discuss BCTT.

2022

Oct 2022: BCTT begins, and quickly becomes overwhelmed with its task, as the county’s records about the landfill are a holy mess. BCTT convenes several subcommittees that study major questions in the areas of the landfill size and longevity, its history, its legal status, its solid waste ecosystem, and so on.

Sept 2022: BCG suddenly cancels the remaining SWAC and DSAC meetings for the year, again citing the priority of the BCTT.

July 2022: Unknown to the public at this time, an EPA investigator finds so many methane leaks at Coffin Butte Landfill – including some higher than his instrument was capable of measuring – that he runs out of marking flags. He issues a scathing report. (Report is in Documents Library)

July 2022: SWAC finds significant errors in the landfill’s 2021 Annual Report, and DSAC begins work on its Community Concerns Annual Report (CCAR), which will report on the hundreds of public concerns expressed to BCG during the application process in 2021.

Mid 2022: BCTT is being organized.

Apr 2022: BCG announces they wish to convene a “community-led fact-finding group” regarding the landfill. They limit the activities of SWAC and DSAC in favor of this new group, the Benton County Talks Trash workgroup (BCTT). BCTT expressly will not discuss any landfill expansion.

Mar 2022: RS withdraws its application entirely; the 2021 application is now dead. RS states they will apply again.

Early 2022: Turnover in SWAC & DSAC – many members of the public concerned with the landfill’s environmental impacts join and many old members leave.

2021

Dec 2021: RS immediately appeals the decision, which means that it is now slated to go before the Board of Commissioners. RS asks for an extension, so that it can prepare additional material (correct some application flaws).

Nov 2021: the county Planning Commission, which decides the application, receives dozens of written concerns and hears hours of oral testimony against the application, and subsequently vote to deny it 6-0.

Late 2021: Community members research the landfill, its application, its environmental impacts and permitting, its relationship to BCG etc. and uncover hundreds of arguments for denial of the application.

Oct 2021: The county’s community advisory groups, the Solid Waste Advisory Council (SWAC) and the Disposal Site Advisory Committee (DSAC), who are used to having little to no public participation, are now in the spotlight as dozens of community members sign on to speak in opposition to the application.

Mid 2021: community group VNEQS (Valley Neighbors for Environmental Safety & Quality) is formed.

Mid 2021: BCG begins the notification process about the expansion application (which is a proposed land use change), and a public groundswell of opposition begins.

Early 2021: RS begins working with BCG on the expansion application. As part of the application, RS had proposed that BCG reroute a major county arterial road, Coffin Butte Road. BCG recommends that the applicant ask for BCG to just close the road instead, which will be simpler.

2020

Dec 2020: BCG and RS sign the FA. It’s COVID days, and there is no public knowledge or involvement with the FA process.

Jan-Nov 2020: Benton County Government (BCG) learns from Republic Services (RS) that RS plans to apply to expand the landfill. BCG expects there to be no effective public opposition to the application, so they negotiate a new “bifurcated” Franchise Agreement (FA) with RS that gives BCG a bigger franchise payout if the expansion succeeds.