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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Destruction of North Plains, Oregon is finalized

The Washington County commission has sealed the fate of the city of North Plains, where the unbearable stench of a food composting operation has made life miserable for nearby residents. Last night, in a sudden switcheroo, the county board decided that as long as they restrict the outfit to residential food slop, as opposed to food slop from restaurants, it won't stink. And so they gave the place a license for another two and a half years, and likely forever.

This was being spun by the commissioners as some sort of compromise, but it makes no sense. Rotten odor is rotten odor, and as a long as the operators of this place have capacity, they'll take all the food waste they can get their hands on. Portland residents are now generating stomach-turning food slop by the garbage-truck-fleet-load these days. And despite the politicians' convenient spin, it wasn't until the Portland home composting program started a year and a half ago that the stench out that way became an issue.

In other words, North Plains is going to continue to stink to high heaven, indefinitely.

The county commission sprung this on the staff at the last minute yesterday -- so close to the meeting time that they barely had time to draft it, much less gather meaningful input on it:

For almost two months, the commissioners and North Plains residents have debated two options: whether to end or to allow a temporary extension of the program. But commissioners "coalesced" around a new option, Commissioner Roy Rogers said at a work session earlier Tuesday.

The commissioners held a worksession on the Nature's Needs permit Tuesday afternoon before the vote.... [F]or North Plains residents and city councilors who have lobbied to eliminate the entire food-waste program, the last-minute shift was far from ideal.

"We're completely taken by surprise; we're still trying to digest this," North Plains City Manager Martha DeBry said.

Call your realtor, Martha. Your town is toast.

Growing up back east, everyone knew that garbage disposal was run by the Mafia, and that those guys played extremely rough. In our New Jersey newspaper days, we started asking questions about illegal landfills that we drove by on our way to work. We started getting threatening phone calls, and had the windshield of our car smashed. If something sudden and mysterious like last night's vote happened back there back then, we all would have assumed that some envelopes were passed, somebody woke up with a horse's head in the bed with them, or both. Here in Oregon, in 2013, that would be unthinkable.

Comments (16)

""We're completely taken by surprise; we're still trying to digest this," North Plains City Manager Martha DeBry said."

Well, when it's digested, she won't have to go far to deposit it.

Another indication that the power of Portland politicians has grown way out of control.

Afghanistan of the Left Coast, here we go.

"we're still trying to digest this"

Well she certainly has a wry sense of humor about it, doesn't she.

Had to look up your "newspaper days," from a post of Feb. 3, 2009. This certainly underscores Portland Polite, doesn't it. Too bad they can't take it to Hanford; it would probably only sweeten the pot.

Jack, I hate to burst your bubble...or you were being very sarcastic, but I think we can all assume that envelopes were past and/or threats were made.
The right coast does not have exclusivity on "persuasion". I know this from personal experience right here in PuddleTown.

DeBry? Really? They should rename the town after her.

And despite the politicians' convenient spin, it wasn't until the Portland home composting program started a year and a half ago that the stench out that way became an issue.

One more big mess made by politicians here who aren't qualified to make decisions of this magnitude. This has to do with saving the planet? It looks more like using "planet saving" as excuses for other reasons.
In fact it may actually be harming the planet and the soil of our region because food waste according to Recology does not belong in with yard debris. I have written about this before.

We also sell compost, organic humus, dark hemlock and medium bark dust.
Accepted Items
Items We Accept
Yard debris, sod, bushes and shrubs
(branches and wood must be separated)
Wood, branches, and stumps (under 2')
PROHIBITED MATERIALS: Wet Garbage, Food Waste, Chemicals, Commercial Refrigerants, Railroad Ties, Paint, Auto Parts/Motors, Tires Over 22.5 Inches, Hazardous Waste Including Asbestos Containing Materials

When I bring this subject up, the response is that it must be OK because the city is telling us to do this, put food waste in our yard debris can.
We have to get past this idea that these politicians know enough to make appropriate decisions here. They essentially know how to get elected and in my opinion, their knowledge pretty much stops there or they do know better and consciously decide to make their decisions based on politics or other reasons anyway. Our planet and the people are both suffering as a result.

We live on the coast and when we are traveling back home from Portland, we always stop in North Plains and get something to drink at a convenience store there to quench our thirst for the trip over the hill. The last time we stopped there, we smelled the stench for the first time. I had thought that the problem was a little overblown reading about it, but experiencing it first hand I learned I was grossly wrong. We will never stop there again because of it. I'm curious if any of the commissioners actually have experienced the smell themselves or just relied on written reports. As a former county commissioner where we live, I would have done my due diligence and would have stopped this in it's tracks. I apologize to the businesses of North Plains for no longer stopping at any of your businesses, but I will not subject my queasy stomached wife to that smell.

Where is Tre Arrow when we really need him?

Tre Arrow? Yeah, add him to the compost pile! What's his half-life? Seems it might be over.

If Portland officials want this so bad and it's supposed to be such a good thing, why does it have to be sited out in a formerly pristine rural area and not inside city limits?

Now that North Plain residents seemingly have exhausted all legislative processes they (and other neighbors) are at the point of a law suit for damages.

You put out garbage in Portland and it attracts raccoons and other small animals who seem to know the collection schedule. Would raccoon poop smell better or worse than rotting garbage? Maybe it would be simpler to breed huge numbers of food waste loving raccoons and let them at it.
Did the NJ garbage piles stink because of the pig farms, or because the pigs did not eat the garbage fast enough?
This is stuff we should be dumping in the ocean, which is big enough to handle the job and apparently was designed to do it.

Restricting to residential slop because it's not as smelly? The last time I checked restaurants weren't recycling dirty diapers.

My first thought also was that lobbyists did their job, whether via cash, other incentives or threats.

That said, I would question the numbers. Supposedly only 20% of their volume is residential. So either they're not taking all of Portland's residential yard/food debris, or no one else is taking commercial food waste. And, how does one calculate the amount of residential food waste when copious amounts of yard debris are mixed in. I think someone really needs to look at the numbers, though clearly the fix was in.

The entire mess and the dirty diaper scene is disgusting because we just know that many people are not careful. Again, what is all the food waste and who knows what else doing to the soil used to grow our food? How carefully is this inspected?
Any experts here on that?

It would have been just desserts if the only job Sam could have landed would have been out in the North Plains area dealing with this stench.

So sorry to anyone out in the rural areas who have to deal with problems as a result of our "deciders" here.

And there's a bright side to all of this, believe it or not. If you think this is bad, just imagine the cost and the stench if Sam Adams had been able to vet that biogas facility in Portland. Now that he's no longer mayor, you can't be charged with assault on a public official for kicking him repeatedly in the goolies, can you?

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