Oct 12, 2015

Five years after its construction, Cody's new trash cell put to use

After five years of basically just sitting there, a new and improved trash pit at the Cody landfill is now being put to use.

The first loads of household trash were dumped in the Park County Regional Landfill’s lined cell on Wednesday morning; Park County commissioners formally opened the $2.7 million on Tuesday.

“I’m happy for everyone that worked on it, that, ‘Hey, we’re moving forward,’ but it’s always going to be a work in progress,” said Commissioner Bucky Hall.

Park County commissioners and landfill staff look out over the new trash pit after a Tuesday ribbon cutting. Cody News Co. photo by CJ Baker

Hall conceded Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting was “somewhat anti-climatic,” given that the cell was completed in 2010. However, the long delay between the pit’s construction and its first use was a good thing for the county: it was because the county was allowed to fit another five years’ worth of trash into the old trash pit, saving space in the new one.

“It was nice not going into it, because we were just buying more time,” Hall said.

The new pit is expected to hold eight to 10 years’ worth of trash. Once full, the county will have the option to either close it down or build another, overlapping cell.

The pit — which involved moving some 750,000 cubic yards of dirt — meets modern Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality standards aimed at stopping any run-off from garbage from reaching groundwater.

Park County commissioners fought against the need for a state-of-the-art liner — arguing the site south of Cody has little groundwater and naturally insulating bentonite — but they ultimately relented to the DEQ.

The upgraded cell’s multi-layer liner includes a plastic covering that’s “basically like a thick garbage bag,” said Park County Engineer Brian Edwards. Drains in the the pit funnel are intended collect any garbage run-off (called leachate).

Edwards said county staff watched the pit to make sure the liner went undamaged over the last few years.

The Cody landfill’s primary customers are the city of Cody and Keele Sanitation, along with the town of Meeteetse and private citizens.

The city of Powell started taking its trash to Billings last year, where rates are cheaper.

“‘If you build it they will come,’ isn’t exactly working out the way we planned it,” said Commissioner Bucky Hall.

Commissioner Hall quipped that “‘If you build it they will come,’ isn’t exactly working out the way we planned it,” but he said commissioners still hope the Cody site will come to be used by customers around the region.

“Ultimately, if we were taking everybody’s stuff from the Big Horn Basin, it would make our tipping costs go way down, and it really wouldn’t be worthwhile for anybody to go to Casper, or over the hill to Buffalo or Sheridan, or to Billings,” Hall said.

Multiple county officials and staff attended Tuesday’s ceremony, along Mickey Waddell of Powell, the sister of Park County Landfills Manager Tim Waddell.

Mickey Waddell said she decided to stop by because she was already in Cody and thought, “what the heck.”

“I’m proud it got done,” she said of the project.


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