Headquarters Landfill

A private company wants to buy Cowlitz County’s landfill near Silver Lake. George Raiter, Mike Karnofski, James Misner and Axel Swanson tell Cowlitz County leaders the profit motive could lead to safety shortfalls.

Roger Werth, The Daily News

Eight private companies have expressed interest in partnering with Cowlitz County to operate the Headquarters Landfill, exceeding the county’s expectations for interest as it reconsiders the future of the 380-acre property.

Changes to state environmental laws have county commissioners worried about the financial future of the landfill. The commissioners haven’t decided yet whether to lease the land, do nothing or come up with another solution.

The county received two more proposals than it had expected, said Cowlitz County Commissioner Dennis Weber.

The eight companies that sent proposals are Republic Services, who owns the Roosevelt landfill in Eastern Washington; Waste Management, one of the largest waste services in the country; DTG Enterprises, a Mill Creek company that focuses on recycling; Waste Connections, who Weber said already has contracts in Pierce and Clark counties; Longview-based Waste Control Recycling; Green Life Waste Solutions; Recology, an employee-owned company; and Santek Waste Services, a Tennessee-based solid waste management firm.

Weber said Seattle lawyer Steve DiJulio will analyze and review the requests, which is something the commissioner said he’s excited about.

“He is the most highly-acclaimed municipal utility lawyer in the state of Washington, so he’s the expert,” Weber said.

Afterwards, the proposals will go to the Solid Waste Advisory Committee to review, according to Weber. After that process and after Moss Adams LLP, a public accounting firm, is finished assessing the value of the landfill, Weber said negotiations with the eight companies to potentially create a partnership will begin.

Weber made clear that the current proposals simply state that the companies are interested in the landfill and each has an amount they can offer, but any potential final deal could look very different.

“There’s not a dollar amount we can share quite yet; it’s too fluid,” he said.

The county now makes money off the landfill — a little over $4 million for each of the past two years — which charges among the cheapest disposal rates in the state and has about 100 years of capacity. However, the county estimates that new regulations to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases will eventually cost $5 million annually.

Discussions about selling or leasing the landfill began when a company — which the county still has not identified — made an unsolicited offer early this year to purchase the landfill.

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