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Local trash hauling companies threaten to sue Lane County over planned recycling, garbage diversion facility

Short Mountain Landfill in the Goshen area of Lane County
Rebecca Hansen-White
A landfill "cell" workers are filling with waste from the Lane County area. Officials estimate it will take 70 years for the landfill to reach capacity. Local leaders hope a new diversion facility will extend the life of the landfill.

A newly formed group of local recycling and trash haulers are threatening to sue Lane County over a project to divert waste from the landfill. They argue the county’s process was illegal.

The county says the accusations are without merit.

The project is the Integrated Material and Energy Recovery Facility, or IMERF for short.

The building and land will be owned by the county and the equipment will be owned and operated by a private company, Bulk Handling Systems.

The project will be paid for with private funds, a bond and increased tipping fees for garbage - which trash hauling companies opposed.

On Feb. 28 those companies, which include Apex Recycling and Disposal, Royal Refuse, Ecosystems Transfer & Recycling, McKenzie Disposal, Coburg Sanitation and Rexius, formed the Lane County Garbage and Recycling Association. The group authored a letter threatening to sue the county over the new facility.

They argued the draft contract with Bulk Handling Systems that was publicly available when the county commissioners approved it in December creates legal liability that could put the county on the hook for the full cost of the $135 million facility. They also argue the bidding process was flawed.

Jake Pelroy, spokesperson for the association, said forming the group and authoring the letter is an attempt to re-calibrate trash and recycling haulers’ relationship with the county.

"Don't you think if we are your customers that you would want to work with us on issues,” he said. “This is a brand new association, and we felt that we needed to get the county's attention because frankly, we were ignored."

Lane County Public Works Director Dan Hurley said the concerns outlined in the letter are based on a draft. He said the county is still negotiating with Bulk Handling systems and will make the final contract available to the public when it is finished.

He said every other step in the process has been vetted by the county’s legal department.

"There are some heavy accusations in there,” he said, “and a lot of inaccuracies. I really don't think that it has any merit as we've gone through all of the accusations with our county counsel."

Construction is expected to start on the facility by the end of the year.

Rebecca Hansen-White joined the KLCC News Department in November, 2023. Her journalism career has included stops at Spokane Public Radio, The Spokesman-Review, and The Columbia Basin Herald.
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