Winter weather and labor shortages have caused trash to pile up at garbage transfer stations in the Portland area.

The Metro South and Central transfer stations have temporarily stopped accepting trash loads from the general public as crews work through mountains of garbage.

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“We have trash in bays where we don’t normally even have trash, that normally are for like wood waste or yard debris, and we had to kind of move all of that out so we can make space for more trash,” said Metro spokesperson Kimberlee Ables. “It’s an insane sight to see.”

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Ables said the Interstate 84 closures during recent winter storms prevented haulers from carrying trash at transfer stations to landfills in Eastern Oregon.

Oregon Metro workers clear through garbage buildup at a transfer station in January 2022.

Oregon Metro workers clear through garbage buildup at a transfer station in January 2022.

Photo courtesy Oregon Metro

Meanwhile, a national shortage of truck drivers means there are fewer people available to do the hauling.

“So we’re trying to get creative on finding other companies who can drive the trucks, trying to get different kinds of trucks, trying to see if we have other landfills on this side of I-84 that we can also send some of our trash to,” Ables said.

Transfer stations in other parts of the state appear to be less impacted because they have more direct connections to their landfills.

Ables said it could be days or weeks until the general public can start bringing their trash to the stations again. Portland’s curbside pickup shouldn’t be impacted, although Ables said Portlanders might see garbage trucks arriving earlier than usual because they’re working longer days to catch up.

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