7. Good for you for contacting the Oregonian about it. That's messed up!
A friend of mine found something similar because he used to live near the cemetery way out on Donald street in Eugene. He found a bunch of the most amazing weird metal pieces- they were fabulous looking, kind of like something art deco from the movie Metropolis. Being a Eugenian (god bless him!) he tried to turn one of them into a marijuana pipe. That's one of the things we do in Eugene with found objects: Try to turn them into something we can smoke weed out of, LOL!
Anyway, neither of us could figure out what the metal pieces were and they were fucking up his drill bits like mad, so he started doing research on the word "vitallium" (which was stamped on the side), to find out why what the fuck these indestructible, odd-looking metal things were.
It's then that he realized they were artificial hip joints!
We assumed later that they probably weren't dumped improperly, but they were from cremations and they just wanted to keep the ashes for the families instead of all the metal bits from their health problems in life. So they just tossed them out on the neighboring property, which was kind of wooded.
IIRC, he did manage to turn one of them into a pipe but he had to kill a number of pricy drill bits to get through the ball. Looked like something out of steampunk. Smoked a little hot for my tastes, IIRC.
That was almost 20 years ago, now that I think about it. Shit, someday soon, someone's going to be finding my bits and pieces and turning them into a marijuana pipe!