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Deschutes County may drop three more possible landfill sites because FAA says they’re too close to airports

(Update: adding video, comments from SWAC director, Bend airport manager, public)

FAA recommends 5-mile radius, airport officials agree; special advisory committee meeting Feb. 7

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Deschutes County recently began evaluating 13 potential sites for its new landfill, dropping to 12 when a private property owner said he has plans for his land. Now, it appears three more sites may be off the table, because their proximity to airports goes against a Federal Aviation Administration recommendation.

County Solid Waste Director Chad Centola said Wednesdasy the latest round of debates over potential sites to replace Knott Landfill is not surprising: "There's people who don't want a landfill in Deschutes County at all."

Resident Michelle Kaptur said that if either of two proposed sites east of Bend are chosen: "It will make me leave the county, absolutely."

The county's Solid Waste Advisory Committee will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7 to discuss whether to drop three sites, two within a five-mile radius of the Bend Airport and one within that distance of the Redmond Airport. County commissioners were briefed on the issue at their Wednesday meeting.

The next SWAC meeting was planned for Feb. 21, but commissioners agreed with staff that they should meet earlier than expected to decide whether they want to move forward or drop the three sites altogether. Hundreds turned out to voice concerns about some sites at this month's meeting.

Tracy Williams, manager at the Bend Airport, voiced her concern with more wildlife in the area from a potential new landfill.

"I've been very clear with both the county and the local residents that it isn't in the best interest of the airport and its users to establish a landfill within five miles of the airport," she said "Five miles within an airport would be an incompatible land use. Over the last several years, there have been several bird strikes. And that can end quite badly."

Centola says SWAC has been in contact with the FAA throughout the process.

"We we're advised of a circular that had a six-mile restriction that ultimately didn't apply," he said. " And at that time, they advised us of another advisory that had the five-mile recommendation. They said, 'Please reach out to us when you and the airports get to a point where you have sites identified.'"

Of the selection process, Centola said, "It's going to be charged at times, with a lot of passion -- and it's the process we'll have to go through. Our waste is not going away."

Centola told commissioners that the Bend and Redmond airport managers agreed with the FAA recommendation ("as opposed to a mandate," he noted) that new landfills should not be sited within a five-mile radius of "public access airports," to avoid issues with bird strikes or other problems.

The three sites are located at at the county's Negus Waste Transfer Station near Redmond and two east of Bend, one near Rickard Road and another on property owned by the Central Oregon Irrigation District.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County
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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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