Oregon Lumber Dump Troubles Town With Frequent Fires

July 17, 2014

The man who owns one of Oregon’s oldest organic wineries also has his name on a massive environmental fine at a long-burning dump across the state.

A decades-old lumber dump outside Pilot Rock is expected to burn again this summer, as it has several times each year, most recently in June, The East Oregonian reported.

The dump is owned by Kinzua Resources, a company held by brothers Greg and Jeffrey Demers, and King Estate winery owner Ed King. The Demers are Lane County developers.

In August 2013, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality proposed a $790,062 fine for years of neglect at the dump and never closing it.

They appealed, and face a contested case hearing before an administrative law judge in late September.

The latest fires at the landfill mean another round of penalties for the Demers and King.

The fires can blanket Pilot Rock in smoke. Pilot Rock Mayor Virginia Carnes said the dump is so dangerous the Pilot Rock fire department only fights perimeter fires at the site. “They won’t put men or equipment on top of that pile for fear of losing one or both,” she said.

Given the right conditions, said dump neighbor and retired developer John Taylor, a fire from the big pit would spell disaster for his home and others. The dump also hides sink holes, and a barbed wire fence is the only deterrent from anyone walking on it.

“If someone fell in it,” Taylor said, “they could probably never get out.”

The DEQ has estimated closing the site could cost $2 million.

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