DEQ issues fourth-largest penalty ever to Cornelius business
Oregon environmental regulators have issued the fourth-largest fine in state history to a business that has reportedly been storing and processing industrial solid waste in Cornelius for years without permits.
In a May enforcement letter, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality fined Construction Materials Recycling more than $611,000 after the agency said the company stored glass waste that also contained plastic and metal, as well as asphalt shingle waste at the property without a permit.
The company also processed asphalt waste, a byproduct of roof removal, and glass waste on-site, providing the recycled products to entities unknown to DEQ for use as road construction fill material, all without permits, according to DEQ.
The penalty comes after repeated attempts by DEQ to bring the company into compliance with regulations, the agency said.
A representative for the company declined to comment on the penalty via phone Wednesday. DEQ officials say the company has appealed the enforcement action, seeking a hearing to further discuss the penalty.
Construction Materials Recycling is the business name for Columbia Northwest Recycling Inc., which is based in Woodburn, where it has another site.
DEQ officials inspected the property, located at 6655 Hergert Road in Cornelius, in December 2018 and found the company was storing about 10,000 tons of glass waste and about 3,000 tons of asphalt waste.
Storing asphalt shingles and plastic-contaminated glass improperly can result in the release of carcinogenic compounds into soils and surface waters, DEQ said. The agency added that plastics left on land create microplastics, which change the chemical and physical characteristics of soil.
The company has stored glass waste and provided it to other entities since at least 2017. It has stored asphalt waste there since at least 2016, DEQ said.
At some point, the company had provided the owner of the property, Westside Quarry LLC, with asphalt waste to be used as fill for an area 500 feet by 150 feet, DEQ said.
Months after the DEQ inspection, in March 2019, the company submitted applications to store and provide the wastes to be used in road construction.
In April, DEQ responded, saying the company's applications were incomplete and providing a May 8 deadline to submit additional information.
DEQ spokesperson Lauren Wirtis said in an email the company did not receive approval for its permit application because Washington County hadn't provided the facility with a "land use compatibility statement." According to the county's website, the statement is required to ensure actions are consistent with the county's comprehensive plan.
The day after the deadline passed, DEQ granted the company an extension to submit its additional required information until the end of the month.
By the date of the penalty notice last month, the company still hadn't provided DEQ with the required information.
In February 2020, DEQ received documentation showing the company was still storing the same about of wastes on-site and was processing glass.
According to DEQ, more than $580,000 of the fines represent the economic benefit, or costs saved, the company gained by not properly disposing of the wastes.
"If the facility removes the waste, DEQ may recalculate and reduce the penalty," Wirits said.
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