Park County wants consistency, a level playing field for landfill operations

Oct 18, 2013

The Park County Board of Commissioners is concerned that its decision to comply with statewide environmental standards by building a new lined landfill cell will continue to take a financial toll on the County if the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality doesn’t act soon.

In order to renew their permits, the DEQ has required operators to prove their landfills aren’t leaking, or to build a leak-resistant lined landfill cell, or move their trash somewhere that’s leak-resistant. Park County built a new lined cell at the Cody landfill.

But Commissioner Bucky Hall says that was an expensive process, and the county isn’t making enough revenue from its waste tipping fees to use the new cell yet, which requires more labor to manage. They’re relying on their existing landfill cell while its permit lasts.

“We have already paid 6 million dollars to build, which, right now, is a (sic) expensive swimming pool,” Hall says.

Hall says neighboring Bighorn County is able to charge less at their existing landfills, since they haven’t had to pay to upgrade their facilities yet. The City of Powell is now moving its garbage out of Park County to Bighorn to save money. Hall says he doesn't blame Powell for following lower prices, but he wants the DEQ to provide a level playing field for the counties.

Park County has protested Bighorn County’s permit to the DEQ, and the agency’s Acting Solid Waste Director Alan Edwards says he hopes the counties will be able to come to an agreement before the appeal reaches the Environmental Quality Council.

Park County also wants the DEQ to change confusing language in its draft rules that would govern how landfills are closed and remediated in the future, so they don’t have to spend more money to landfill intern construction debris the way they do wet, leaky household garbage.