Albany and neighboring Millersburg are suing CH2M Hill for $84 million, the cost of constructing the cities’ wastewater treatment facilities and cooling ponds. CH2M Hill had designed the facilities that were completed in 2009.
Under CH2M Hill’s design, the waste processed at the facilities was supposed to be used as agricultural amendments. However, the facilities never worked as planned, creating an unusable sludge. Albany has had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to transport the waste to the landfill at Coffin Butte.
The cooling ponds never worked properly, either. Their waters never reached the 68 to 72 degree range required for emptying reclaimed water into the Willamette. The pools also have some stinky leaks.
Money from the suit would be used to pay for transportation of waste to the landfill and repair of the major design problems.
CH2M Hill was founded in Corvallis as CH2M in 1946 by an Oregon State University professor and three graduates. Since then, OSU has continually touted their close relationship with CH2M Hill.
Earlier this month, CH2M Hill donated $1 million to endow a chair within in OSU’s College of Engineering. In a statement on the donation, the OSU Foundation stressed how many alumni have gone on to work for CH2M Hill, particularly in leadership positions, and how CH2M Hill employees have returned to OSU as adjunct faculty.
By Andy Hahn