Issues with regional railway transportation and container shortages are again leading to an excess of solid waste in Snohomish County, as the county announced that it is shutting down waste transfer stations and drop boxes on Sunday, Sept. 18 and Sept. 25.
The county says the issue is similar to one it faced earlier this year, with excess garbage “piling up and prompting health, safety and environmental concerns for customers and staff,” county officials said.
In May, solid waste facilities in Snohomish County were forced to close for two days to remove the excess waste that had built up due to a lack of intermodal containers to transport it to landfills.
“We are experiencing significant delays in rail service by BNSF to the landfill, but safety will remain our number one priority throughout this emergency,” Snohomish County’s solid waste director, David Schonhard, said. “We are working on every possible option to reduce the refuse at our facilities without shutdowns, but it is difficult. We appreciate our customers’ patience during this uncertainty.”
Railway workers with Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway were threatening to go on strike this Friday, jeopardizing Amtrak and Sounder train trips along with Snohomish County trash removal. But early Thursday, a tentative agreement was reached between the union and railroad companies.
County officials say there is still a shortage of railcars and crews to ship trash out, leading them to shut down transfer stations and drop boxes for the next two Sundays.
The county is urging residents to remember “reduce, reuse, recycle” options, and to consider donating clothing or household items before throwing them away.
In April, the solid waste division was awarded $2 million to aid in the removal of excess garbage at area transfer stations.
Garbage levels have been sustainable through the summer, but the county says they’ve recently begun to build up due to railway staffing issues and a lack of intermodal containers.
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