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Grabhorn agrees to $7 million DEQ cleanup plan

The operator of the contaminated former Grabhorn landfill near Cooper Mountain west of Beaverton has agreed to pay for a $7 million cleanup managed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, in a proposed out-of-court settlement.

Howard Grabhorn and Grabhorn Inc. agreed to give DEQ $2.5 million, plus $4.5 million provided by their insurer Maryland Casualty. DEQ would hire contractors to clean up contamination, which has been documented 45 feet below the ground and extending along roughly 1,400 feet of Tualatin River frontage.

If the proposed settlement is accepted by a Washington County judge, it would resolve longstanding litigation brought by the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and Friends of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. It also would result in cleanup of the 37-acre construction waste site that closed in 2009.

“It will be difficult to recoup costs through litigation,” says Bruce Gilles, DEQ’s manager for cleanup programs. “So if you can get an insurance company to pony up $4.5 million in lieu of litigation, that’s a good deal.”

The $7 million settlement would provide the full amount DEQ projects that cleanup will cost, Gilles says, including a 15 percent contingency for unexpected costs or cost overruns.

The former Lakeside Reclamation Landfill is at 14930 S.W. Vandermost Road, east of Bull Mountain and south of Scholls Ferry Road. The Grabhorn family began operating the site for construction waste and demolition debris in the mid-1950s, before the state required permitting for landfills.

Ultimately, the site will be covered with trees and vegetation, Gilles says.

The deal gives DEQ control over cleanup and care of the closed landfill, though Grabhorn will continue to own the property. Future redevelopment is possible, though DEQ would have a say in the matter.

As part of the deal, the state and Grabhorn have agreed not to sue each other.

Grabhorn also has a permit to operate a compost operation at the property, where it accepts yard debris and woody waste. The material is composted using static piles that are turned periodically. DEQ has determined that the compost operations pose a low risk to surface water and ground water and a low risk for odors.

The next step is for DEQ to collect citizen comments about the proposed settlement and Grabhorn’s new compost permit.

Public comments will be accepted by DEQ until Oct. 15.

There will be an informational meeting to explain the settlement at 7 p.m., Sept. 18, at Beaverton City Hall, City Council Chambers, 4755 Griffith Drive.

Then there will be a hearing on the settlement at 7 p.m. Oct. 2, at Beaverton Community Center, 12350 S.W. Fifth St., Suite 100.

If all goes well, the deal would then go to a judge, Gilles says.

For more information: deq.state.or.us/nwr/LakesideReclamation.htm.