Port commissioner puts EKO on notice

Composting company’s lease could end in three years

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Port of Lewiston commissioners gave EKO a three-year extension on a lease that otherwise would have expired in June.

But they indicated they want their tenant to use the time finding a new home where it will still serve the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. “We’re really putting them on notice, it’s going to be terminated in three years,” said Todd Maddock, a port commissioner.

How much weight Maddock’s position carries on the three-member commission is not clear.

Maddock is leaving the commission after his term ends in December because he is moving. Terry Kolb will also be off the commission at the same time. Kolb was appointed to the post in 2009, following the death of Peter Wilson, under rules that allow someone who doesn’t reside in the district to fill the slot temporarily under such a circumstance.

The extension the port commissioners passed was required by a 2008 agreement which according to the port’s legal counsel bound the port to provide EKO the extension if EKO requested it, said David Doeringsfeld, manager of the Port of Lewiston.

The expiration of the port’s $41,000-a-year lease with EKO will now coincide with when EKO’s agreement with the city of Lewiston ends, said Jerry Klemm, a port commissioner.

The decision came after port commissioners listened to comments from Dave Bueke, chairman of the Lewis-Clark Regional Air Quality Advisory Commission; Mike Grow, a Nez Perce County commissioner; Richard (Dick) Wyatt, who’s running for port commission; and Bill Larson, an owner of the Quality Inn in Clarkston.

The men said they want the community to find a spot for EKO, possibly at a higher elevation, where the smell won’t travel as readily into Lewiston and Clarkston.

Grow passed around an air filter he said had been in the roof of the Nez Perce County Jail for three weeks near EKO and was already more dusty than ones he’s removed from his home after months of use. Jail employees are suffering from the smell of the business that turns yard waste and biosolids from sewage treatment plants into compost, Grow said.

Wyatt questioned the port’s contention it can’t require EKO to do more to control its smell. The port’s contract with EKO bars EKO from disturbing the port or any other tenant by creating “noxious or offensive odors,” Wyatt said.

Bueke and Larson said they were tired of the Port of Lewiston’s and state agencies’ stance that EKO isn’t a problem because of the absence of documented odor complaints in recent years.

More than once, the response times of the regulatory agency that oversees odors have been so long the smell had eased before its personnel arrived, they said.

“It’s better than it was, but it’s still not good,” Larson said.

EKO has listened to and acted on the concerns of Lewiston-Clarkston Valley residents, said Tano Estrada, site manager of EKO.

EKO added enzymes to its process that help digest yard waste more quickly with less smell. The business now puts biosolids into a covered process as soon as they arrive on site, said Estrada, who was reached by the Tribune after the meeting.

If the wind is blowing toward the jail, EKO waits to complete a step that creates dust and it keeps a 4,000-gallon water truck on site to control dust, Estrada said.

It’s interesting the complaints are surfacing now since at least one city survey found 82 percent of Lewiston residents support EKO being in Lewiston, said Estrada, who wonders if the timing has to do with Wyatt’s bid for commission. “Naturally he has to do something to create a little publicity so his name can be thrown out free of charge.”

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.