MIDLAND — A proposal for a permit from the Department of Environmental Quality for a new compost facility near the California-Oregon border received strong pushback from residents, many of whom live within miles of the proposed site, and some support during a public hearing Thursday night at the Midland Grange.
The DEQ had not planned to hold the public hearing, but decided to do so and to open a second public comment period after hearing from multiple people that they had been insufficiently informed of the first public comment period.
The compost facility would process types 1, 2 and 3 feedstock, which includes wood chips, vegetative wastes, butcher wastes and more. It is planned off the east side of Hwy 97 less than a mile north of the state line and three miles south of Worden, Ore.
Stateline Compost anticipates processing up to 30,000 tons of feedstock from agricultural, municipal and industrial sources and the general public. The piles would aerate on a 40,000 square-foot asphalt pad, and leachate and runoff would be directed via spillway to a lined retention pond.
A lengthy process
Grant Haigh, operator of Stateline Compost, began the process for applying for a solid waste permit from the DEQ in Aug. 2015 and applied to the DEQ for a permit in December.
Haigh has undergone all of DEQ's necessary requirements for the permit thus far, according to DEQ Natural Resource Specialist Shari Harris-Dunning, including submitting a land use compatibility statement signed by the Klamath County planning director and a conditional use permit issued by the planning department in Dec. 2015.
Haigh has also drafted a proposed operations plan and an odor minimization plan, to be included as part of the permit issued by the DEQ.
Harris-Dunning said the DEQ would inspect the facility multiple times during its first year of operation, and at least annually every consecutive year.
The DEQ has also evaluated the site for risks to ground water, surface water and odors, finding low to potential risks for the site.
KBC NOTE: according to the DEQ documents, http://www.oregon.gov/deq/pub/061016stateline.pdf , "...Type 3 feedstocks include dead animals, meat and source-separated mixed food waste and industrially produced non-vegetative food waste. They also include other materials the department determines pose a low level of risk from hazardous substances and a higher level of risk from physical contaminants and human pathogens compared to type 1 and 2 feedstocks. Surface water risk screening - poses potential risk: ...the proximity of this site to irrigation drainage waters and the potential for this water to reach the property, or for any uncontaminated runoff from this property to reach drainage waters elevates the potential risk level for surface water. ...Odor risk screening- poses potential risk..."

“The DEQ has some pretty strict regulations. My permit would not even fit into this,” Haigh said, gesturing to a binder several inches thick. “It's huge, the hoops we've got to jump through.”

More information regarding the risk evaluations and permit of Stateline Compost can be found at www.oregon.gov/DEQ.
Concern for potential effects
A number of residents at the meeting encouraged the DEQ to consider the consequences of the compost facility before moving forward with the permitting process.
A prominent concern was with the compost facility's location in the Pacific Flyway zone, a major flyway for migratory birds, as pathogens from the decomposing waste could pose a potential harm to wildlife.
Others expressed concern that the presence of decaying meat in the compost piles could attract eagles and other birds, and upset the natural hunting process of the birds at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge, which is about five miles southeast of the proposed site.
Many, including Klamath County Commissioner Jim Bellet, wondered how the facility would prevent odors from emanating from the site, which is less than one mile from the historic Landrum Wayside and the “Welcome to Oregon” sign on Hwy 97.
“I really admire people that want to start a business here in Klamath County,” Bellet said. “But, I also feel that we need to be very concerned about the individuals that are living around this compost facility. The location should not be where it is. I don't want people driving into Klamath County and saying, 'What in the world is that odor?' Those are visitors that we are trying to get in here for economic development."
A number of testimonies stated that the compost facility was a benefit to the community economically, and that they were not against composting, but that the location was not right for the operation.
“If it moves far enough out in the country, then absolutely,” said Bellet.
Another concern was with truck traffic going into and out of the facility that is situated on Hwy 97, and the safety of traffic passing by on the highway at high rates of speed.