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Recycling & Solid Waste

A Brief History of the Landfill Site in Benton County


1950’s to 1990’s



June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

December 2021

March 2022

July 2022

September 2022 to April 2023

April 2023

October 2023 to Present

Summer 2024


Origins of present-day landfill operations

Waste disposal begins at Camp Adair related to WWII military operations. Landfilling first began in the 1940s by the Army as part of waste disposal for Camp Adair. Waste was placed in a quarry on the southwest flank of Coffin Butte, where the landfill operated as an open burn dump (referred to as the “Closed Landfill”).

The BCTT Final Report and A History of Coffin Butte Landfill presentation provide additional detail.

Ownership changes; expansion; environmental concerns

Aerial view of landfill

Multiple landfill site ownership changes occurred throughout the mid- to late century. The landfill expanded as a regional disposal site for DEQ’s Chemeketa Region and over time, environmental concerns related to groundwater and soil contamination, odors, fire, and air quality arose. In the 1980s, landfills across the United States became subject to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which turned Coffin Butte into a regional Subtitle D landfill while closing many other smaller landfills.

The BCTT Final Report and A History of Coffin Butte Landfill presentation provide additional detail.

Ownership Changes; Groundwater Remediation; Tonnage Increase

Groundwater remediation stock image

Additional landfill site ownership changes occurred in the 2000s. A Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for quarry excavation and landfilling operation on the Coffin Butte property was approved (2002-2003). DEQ later issued a record of decision on Coffin Butte groundwater remediation activities deeming the landfill site to be in compliance (2005). In 2016, landfill tonnage increased from 553,000 tons to 941,000 tons in 2017. In 2019, Republic Services began installing methane capture wells. Today, over 300 of these wells feed generators and provide 4,000+ homes with electricity.

The BCTT Final Report and A History of Coffin Butte Landfill presentation provide additional detail.

stock image of franchise agreement

Benton County Renews Franchise Agreement

Benton County renewed the landfill franchise agreement with Valley Landfills, Inc. through 2040. A clause in the 2020 Agreement includes removal of the 1.1 million tonnage cap upon any future CUP expansion.

2020 Franchise Agreement

Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Landfill Expansion Application

Coffin Butte landfill image expansion

Republic Services submitted a Conditional Use Permit application in 2021 seeking to expand the footprint of the landfill and related site improvements.

Land Use Application Process for Quasi-Judicial proceedings

Solid Waste FAQs

Benton County Code, Chapter 23, Solid Waste Management

Benton County Development Code, Chapter 77, Landfill Site Zone

2021 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes for LU-21-047

Image Credit: Hasso Hering

Public hearings on the landfill expansion for Benton County

Public Hearings

Benton County held two public hearings for the landfill expansion application, which were well-attended by the community and included substantial written and oral testimony from the public.

2021 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes for LU-21-047

Planning Commission Denies CUP Application

In December 2021, the Benton County Planning Commission denied Republic Service’s application for a CUP to expand the landfill.

Republic Services Appeals Planning Commission’s Decision

Coffin Butte landfill appeal

Following the Planning Commission’s denial of the CUP application, Republic Services appealed the decision to the Benton County Board of Commissioners.  

Republic Services Withdraws Appeal

In March 2022, Republic Services notified Benton County of its decision to withdraw its appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision. Republic Service’s transmittal letter also indicated that they would be filing a new application for a revised landfill expansion project in the future. 

Situational Assessment – County Engages a Neutral, 3rd Party Facilitator 

Situational Assessment for Coffin Butte landfill

Benton County engaged a neutral, third-party facilitator, to assist the county and stakeholders in identifying and implementing a constructive path forward for the future of solid waste disposal in the Mid-Willamette Valley, including at the Coffin Butte regional landfill. The facilitator issued the final report to the County in July 2022.

Benton County Solid Waste Situational Assessment Report by Oregon Consensus

Benton County Talks Trash (BCTT) Solid Waste Work Group Forms – Subcommittee Work Sessions Follow 

In addition to the BCTT full workgroup, five subcommittees were established and asked to do research, prepare findings, and make recommendations on the following topics:

Estimating the landfill size, capacity and longevity

Clarifying legal issues and reviewing land use law

Determining the status of past land use Conditions of Approval

Improving community education and outreach

Developing Sustainable Materials Management Plan (SMMP)

Additional Resources

BCTT Charter and Bylaws and BCTT workgroup materials

BCTT Work Group and BCTT Subcommittees meeting recordings on YouTube

BCTT Final Report Issued

BCTT Final Report April 2023

The BCTT workgroup established, by consensus, “common understandings,” including 124 findings and offered 94 recommendations, for the future of solid waste and materials management in Benton County. 

BCTT Final Report published in April 2023

Sustainable Materials Management Plan (SMMP)

Sustainable Materials Management Plan for Benton County

Following an October 2023 request for proposals for a specialized consulting team, the County selected the firm RRS to provide technical assistance for a regional SMMP later that year. Benton County is currently coordinating with regional partners to capture their perspectives and guidance for the SMMP. A project kickoff meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 2024.

News Post: Benton County Announces Request for Proposals for Sustainable Materials Management Plan, October 2023

News Post: Benton County Embarks on Groundbreaking Regional Sustainability Initiative

Anticipated Landfill Expansion Application

June 2024, Benton County and State authorities met with Republic Services for a pre-application conference in preparation for a future land use application. These conferences improve interagency collaboration on complex applications, provide for technical feedback, Q&A, and aim to ensure the applicant submits a complete, future application to the Planning Division.

Land Use Application Process, Quasi-Judicial

Solid Waste FAQs

Fact Sheet: How to Provide Public Testimony on a Land Use Application

Fact Sheet: Planning Commissioner Responsibilities for Quasi-Judicial Decision Making

Fact Sheet: Planning Staff Responsibilities for Quasi-Judicial Decisions

County Code, Chapter 23, Solid Waste Management and Development Code, Chapter 77, Landfill Site Zone

Anticipated closure of landfill

Anticipated Max Capacity of Landfill Reached

In its 2023 Annual Report, Republic Services estimated that the landfill will reach its maximum capacity in 2037, resulting in the landfill’s closure if an expansion application is not approved.

2023 Annual Report (submitted to Board of Commissioners June 2024)

Example image of a landfill closure, image credit: David Corrigan, Big Island Video News

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