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Central Oregon May Get New Rendering Plant

Crook County officials report they are seeing more dead animals left on the side of the road this month. They say they expected it, because after November first local farmers and ranchers were left with nowhere to dispose of the carcasses.

Central Oregon correspondent Ethan Lindsey reports on a possible green solution to the problem.

A year ago, the state's last rendering plant, in Redmond, shut its doors.

That left a lot of Oregon butchers and farmers with no easy way to dispose of their animal carcasses.

The state creates 91 million pounds of what's called unusable animal product every year.

Almost all landfills ban animal dumping. At Bend's brand-new landfill there is a bright green sign out front that reminds dumpers animal carcasses are not allowed.

Jerry Gardner is with the state Department of Agriculture.

Jerry Gardner: “Landfills have to make sure that this does not leach out into the water supply. You have to have a landfill with lining. It's just something the landfills themselves would rather not have to deal with.”

After a slaughterhouse takes all the meat off an animal, the remains are usually disposed of at a rendering plant.

There, the oils and bones of the animals are melted and digested to make all sorts of products: glue, soap, fertilizer.

So, after the Redmond plant closed, Oregon's carcasses had to be shipped to processors in Washington and California.

There was one temporary fix: the Prineville dump was accepting carcasses. But it stopped doing that on November first.

Now, staring at those hefty transportation costs, the state needs a solution.

Jim Gordon lives in Bend. He and some business partners believe they've come up with a cheaper answer - and one that will be considered environmentally-friendly.

Jim Gordon: “We're gonna take not only animal byproduct, but we're gonna take food product, and completely break those down which will create a bio-diesel, ethanol, and bio-gas.”

He says most of his operations would be underground, which would eliminate a lot of the odor that most rendering plants emit.

Plus, he has already talked with the utility company, Pacific Power, about selling biofuel to help power the region.

He says that biofuel component proves his idea isn't just trying to slap a 'green' label on a maligned business.

Jim Gordon: “Once we get going, I think people will see we're a legitimate biofuels company that's gonna utilize waste products for not only local, but statewide.”

Gordon says if all the permitting works out, he thinks his plant will be operational within a year.

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