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Nature's Needs runs afoul of DEQ at North Plains compost plant

As if it needed more problems, the company running an odor-wracked compost facility in North Plains built a 67,000-gallon tank to hold and treat runoff before getting the required go-ahead from regulators.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $5,600 penalty to Recology Oregon Compost for building the tank at the Nature’s Needs facility without DEQ approval.

When water passes through compost, it extracts materials and creates a liquid runoff called leachate. Recology constructed a large tank to hold the leachate without submitting construction plans in advance to DEQ, as required by Natures Needs’ permit.

Pollutants in leachate can include suspended solids, nitrogen and ammonia compounds, phosphorus and pathogens. When discharged into aquatic environments, those can increase algae growth and reduce oxygen for fish. Improper construction of leachate tanks also can increase odors, something Nature’s Needs has had huge problems with in the past.

Belatedly, Recology submitted its design and construction plans to DEQ, and regulators determined the tank warranted approval retroactively. As a result, the agency reduced its fine.