Community

Garbage in, garbage out–unless you live in Port Arthur where it often goes uncollected

PORT ARTHUR — There is growing frustration at this hour among Port Arthur residents because their garbage is not getting picked up on scheduled collection days.

Some of those concerned citizens reached out to KFDM/Fox 4’s Angel San Juan. Tonight he’s getting answers from city officials.

Garbage pickup in Port Arthur is happening more often on Sunday, because garbage is not getting collected on the days when it’s scheduled.

“I noticed it’s not coming on the regular basis that it has been coming,” said Brenda Baker. “That’s been a major concern for us.”

The delay in trash pickup is frustrating to Baker and her sister, but they’re not the only upset citizens. The garbage gridlock is creating citywide trash talk.

“We’ve had trash debris on the driveway and it’s been there for maybe two weeks now, and they still haven picked it up,” said Baker. “We’re just wondering why it’s taking so long and why it’s an issue right now.”

The problem, according to the city, is similar to many others facing society right now. The City of Port Arthur blames the pandemic for the backup in garbage collection.

“We have equipment failures that is taking longer to repair because due to the lack of available parts as a result of COVID,” said Hani Tohme, a consultant for the city. “So what that is doing during these weeks is putting us behind schedule on the garbage pickup and heavy trash.”

Tohme says Port Arthur has eight trucks, but because of mechanical issues, some of them are only operating at 40 to 50 percent capacity.

Still, he says the city would rather not have to burden taxpayers with the purchase of new trucks.

“We already had to do a rate increase because there hasn’t been a rate increase since 2008, so we don’t want to do additional cost on the citizens in order to go buy new equipment,” said Tohme.

However, residents like Baker also don’t want their neighborhoods filled with trash.

“Of course not, because it attracts all kinds of critters and what not,” said Baker, “so no, we don’t want that outside the home.”

So with fewer working trucks, the city’s plan is to increase the number of days garbage is collected.

“We changed our schedule from a four day schedule to a six day schedule during the weeks when the trucks are not available because they are down for repairs,” said Tohme. “We will be able to work additional days to make sure everybody’s trash is picked up at least once a week as it should be.”

The new schedule is already in place, and the city says while its trucks wait to be repaired, it’s working on other fixes to make sure this essential service isn’t interrupted any further than it already has.

Those other fixes include the city modifying its permit with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to be able to operate the city landfill on holidays and Sundays. That would keep it open seven days a week.

Port Arthur is also planning to hire a contractor that, if necessary, would provide the city with up to four trucks within 24 hours for the removal of heavy trash.

Written by ANGEL SAN JUAN

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