Klamath County

DEQ puts Crescent compost plant on hold

Some compost dumped anyway; DEQ says it's different

CRESCENT, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said Monday it has suspended the permitting process for Klamath Soil Amendments, a compost facility proposed for construction near Crescent that has sparked area residents' concern about odor and groundwater impacts.

"Based on comments received during the public comment period for the draft permit for this proposed operation and further evaluation of site conditions, DEQ has determined more information is needed to determine the environmental impacts of the proposed composting facility," the agency said.

Until a permit is issued, the agency said Klamath Soil Amendments will not have authority from DEQ to begin composting operations. The company must revise and resubmit their permit application, the agency said.

After completing a more detailed review, the DEQ said it will determine if the company's permit application is complete, provide information to the public and hold an information meeting to share that information.

Ultimately, if Klamath Soil Amendment's revised permit application demonstrates the proposal will meet environmental regulations, DEQ will issue the permit.

Crescent residents had expressed concern about a stench ruining their clean air, as well as a threat to the region's groundwater supply from the operation that would bring tons of Portland food scraps to the location.

Despite the DEQ's decision and residents' concerns, the company did bring in and dump a truckload of compost on Monday. But a DEQ official said the company told them that was finished compost product to be used for landscaping, not the still-composting material at the focus of the permit.

The Tualatin company has applied for a state permit to ship food waste and compost from Willamette County operations. One of them, in North Plains, handles Portland food waste and has drawn hundreds of odor complaints.

A partner in the Crescent proposal told The Bulletin last week that the waste wouldn't generate the sort of stink in the dry High Desert environment that it has in the wetter Willamette Valley.

The agency said its action was based on the comments it got in a public meeting last week and further evaluation of the site, an old mill near Crescent.

The company said it would process 36,000 tons of compost a year. Residents of the unincorporated town of a few hundred people said they feared odor and groundwater pollution.

For more information on the DEQ process, contact Susan Christensen at christensen.susan@deq.state.or.us or 541-633-2007.

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