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How to turn a multimillion $ asset into a liability-the solid waste saga

How to turn a multimillion $ asset into a liability-the solid waste saga
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Coos County holds the keys to a rare jewel in waste management in the form of a DEQ and EPA compliant incineration facility at the Beaver Hill Disposal Site. Unlike unsightly landfills, which would not work in Coos County because of high water tables, Beaver Hill converts our trash into a fine ash stored in grass covered trenches that are pH monitored. In 1994 voters decided to invest $7 million to upgrade the facility and today it still meets all emission standards and also unlike many landfills, there is more than a decade left before the existing trenches fill up. Should this facility stop operating as an incinerator there is probably no chance of obtaining a new permit due to stringent environmental regulations which in itself makes the facility worth its weight in rhodium but because the county cannot have a landfill the county would be required to and dependent upon shipping its solid waste out of the county. Shipping waste out of the county does not relieve the county of liability for any hazardous waste and leaves the county vulnerable to litigation.

Nevertheless, there is a concerted effort to close the facility, sell it to Waste Connections for use as a transfer station and watch our rates double or triple. As has been revealed on this site and at Our County Site which is maintained by Randy Sanne, Waste Connections began cutting back on its use of the facility in violation of an agreement signed by management and the Coos County Commission in 2003. The agreement clearly states that Waste Connections “shall continue to deliver the prior three (3) years’ rolling average tons of acceptable solid waste, adjusted for growth , collected from unincorporated areas of Coos County to the Beaver Hill solid waste disposal facility for so long as the Beaver Hill facility is owned and operated by Coos County”

Waste Connections

For reasons that cannot be explained the previous and current commissions have chosen not to enforce this agreement even though it has reduced revenue and put this taxpayer investment at risk. In addition to not delivering the tonnage the company appears to be using the site to dump and store mountains of glass recycling rather than delivering it to a recycling facility.

Instead of enforcing the agreement and asking for compensation for the light tonnages as Lane County does, this commission is using a repair issue and citing safety as a reason to shut the facility down for up to six months and contract to haul our trash out of county. The decision to shut down all three burners, when two can continue to operate safely, was recommended by two staff members but it is not a consensus view. More staff agree there is no reason why sections cannot be isolated and repairs made while continuing to operate the plant.

Additionally, the commissioners have raised the issue of a reduction in force while the plant is shut down but because the department is self insured the county will still be paying unemployment, benefits and vacations yet receiving no services in exchange for that expense. Add this cost to the contract to ship the trash by truck or by rail and this decision cannot be looked at as a good deal for the taxpayer.

No one, of course, believes for a second that the commission has any intentions of firing BHDS back up despite there being more than enough money in the departments contingency fund, over $2.5 million, to catch up on repairs and maintenance. Waste Connections has been panting after this site since 2009 and different commissioners have done their best to deliver and if Messerle has a mission, getting the site to Waste Connections is one of them.

Some email exchanges between DEQ officials who have finally taken note of the fall off of tonnage delivered to BHDS and comparing tonnage delivered by the company out of the county may have motivated the county to take advantage of this repair and blown it into a safety issue to help the company avoid paying its fair share which may amount to a fair chunk of change now. Whatever the reason, converting the facility to transfer site will immediately turn a multimillion dollar asset into a huge liability with millions of dollars in associated closure costs. All this rather than enforce an agreement with one company.

People have characterized the proposed Bandon Marsh expansion as a federal “land grab”. This maneuver to close BHDS is also a grab in reverse and we should all be fighting tooth and nail to remind these commissioners they should be protecting our assets not Waste Connections’ shareholders. Those shiny spots on Messerle’s forehead are his horns trying to break the surface and if you take a whiff you can smell the sulphur.

The commissioners will bring this matter before the public at Tuesday’s BOC meeting as a late agenda item. Rally the troops and be there if you can. If not call and email the county and make sure they do a cost benefit analysis before they decide to shut down all three burners.

Bob Main

(541) 396-3121 ext 770

email Bob Main

Fred Messerle

(541) 396-3121 ext 247

email Fred Messerle

Cam Parry

(541) 396-3121 ext 281

email Cam Parry

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About magix

Avatar of magix When my oldest son, a Marine, left for war and crossed the border from Kuwait into Iraq in March 2003 I started writing my conscience. After two tours that young combat veteran’s mother is now an ardent peace activist and advocate for social, environmental and economic justice. MGx has matured since those early vents and ramblings and now covers relevant and important local and regional matters in addition to national and global affairs.

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10 Responses to "How to turn a multimillion $ asset into a liability-the solid waste saga"

  1. Anonymouse  March 4, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    Seems like a “brilliant” idea to make Waste Connections a contract compliant company.

    However, we do have some “dim bulbs” in the Commissioner’s chairs at the moment.

    I do hope this doesn’t get hopelessly screwed up before we can get some elected Commissioners installed.

    Reply
  2. themguys  March 5, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    We all know they read your blog M, so why don’t one of these boys step up here and tell us why they aren’t collecting from Waste Connections.

    Any of you got the courage to do your job?

    I’m getting really tired of these games Fred.

    Reply
  3. Avatar of aghast!
    aghast!  March 5, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    the commissioners are complicit then

    Reply
  4. ima curious  March 5, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Randy Sanne has one day remaining to change his choice of commissioner positions. He can not defeat Main. He can win the other position. The package deal of Messerle, Barton, Slater, Pettit, FONSI, SCDC, Chamber can be defeated easily.

    Reply
  5. Avatar of magix
    magix  March 5, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Bob Main has beaten himself and no amount of offering to take drug tests and retelling the same stories ad nauseum and pandering to anti-environmentalists and climate change deniers is going to save him.

    Reply
  6. den  March 5, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    I am in agreement, Randy there is one day left to change your stance, and reapply for Commissioner position 2.

    Reply
  7. den  March 5, 2012 at 7:40 PM

    The Beaver Hill Disposal Site. This facility was put into production at the will of the people of this County through a voting process of the People. Don’t let “appointed” commissioners railroad the property tax payers to give up this facility. We own it, not these appointed Commissioners.

    It is the duty of the County Commissioners to enforce contracts which currently support the Beaver Hill Disposal Site.

    It has been supported several times to enforce the contract the feds, BLM, agreed to for the timber cutting on the Coos Bay Wagon, but because of special agendas, as with the dump, it takes a two to one vote of the Commissioner to put in place an action.

    Special interest will gain, people lose, it the dump is put out of service.

    Reply
  8. GenoLandrum  March 6, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    After many searches of ‘Blog’ I have finally found this one! The ‘Bloggers’ at this time, seems to do their research! I agree that Randy should ‘refile’ for #2 even thou I’m running for the same seat! If I get beat, I want to be a ‘loser’ to a fellow Airman! These are my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it. Geno Landrum, Community Activist and Candidate for CCC.

    Reply
  9. ima curious  March 6, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Geno – don’t give up before the race begins. You are one of many clowns seeking our vote, However, you are the only one honest enought to admit it. You have as much county government experience as those being honest and more than those who are less than honest. You have the needed management and budget experience. Just convince us that you are the right choice.

    Reply
  10. den  March 6, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    Hang in there Geno, you got the right stuff.

    Reply

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