News Release

For release: Jan. 29, 2010

Cathie Rhoades, Solid Waste Specialist, Salem, (503) 378-5089
Regina Cutler, Compliance and Enforcement, Portland, (503) 229-5058

DEQ Fines Woodburn Composting Facility $24,259 for Not Having a Permit to Operate

Western Turf Foliage and Seed ordered to cease operations or apply for composting facility permit

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Rudy H. Sonnen and Paulette Sonnen – as well as A-Western Landscape Supply LLC, doing business as Western Turf Foliage and Seed – $24,259 for establishing and operating a composting facility in Woodburn without a permit.


Western Turf Foliage and Seed, at 17018 Highway 99E, has been operating since at least May 2009 as a commercial composting facility, processing more than 20 tons of green or non-green feedstock per calendar year. The facility does not have a permit or registration allowing it to establish, operate or maintain and the composting facility. Rudy and Paulette Sonnen own the property.


DEQ issued the penalty because Oregon regulates composting facilities as solid waste disposal sites under state law. These sites must have permits if they exceed a certain size. If managed improperly, composting piles may pose a fire hazard, may generate noxious odors and potentially harmful stormwater runoff and leachate, and may harbor insects, rodents and other disease-carrying pests. At the time of this violation, Oregon law required all facilities using more than 20 tons of feedstock in a calendar year to obtain a composting facility permit from DEQ. In late May 2009, DEQ documented that the facility had managed at least 299 tons of composting feedstock. Despite repeated warnings to remove all composting material off the site, on June 17, 2009, during another DEQ inspection of the site, there were approximately 374 tons of composting materials managed there.


In addition to the $24,259 penalty, DEQ has ordered the facility to cease all composting and solid waste management operations and remove all accumulated composting materials from the site. The company may also submit a registration/permit application and certain required screening materials to DEQ, along with supplying a valid statement of Land Use Compatibility from Marion County. If the company cannot obtain the necessary land-use approvals, it must cease all operations and remove all accumulated composting materials by March 15, 2010.


The Sonnens and A-Western Landscape Supply LLC have appealed the penalty. The facility has yet to cease operations or apply for a composting facilities permit, according to DEQ.

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