Burning waste dumped into street after exploding battery causes ANOTHER bin lorry fire
A fresh warning about binning batteries has been issued after the third bin lorry in a matter of weeks caught fire.
There have been a number of blazes in the area caused by carelessly discarded batteries in recent months, including two incidents of bin lorries catching fire, and fires at waste depots serving South Tyneside and Sunderland.
In the latest incident, workers were forced to tip waste onto a street.
The load will now be quarantined prior to being sent for recovery. The incident happened in Balmoral Drive in Felling this morning.
SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK, which serves South Tyneside, Gateshead and Sunderland, has previously warned of the “dangerous” consequences of disposing of batteries and electronic devices properly.
The crew were unhurt and the vehicle not damaged in the latest incident, on Wednesday, June 9.
But the a spokeswoman for Gateshead Council, which serves the area, said the situation could have been “so much worse”.
She confirmed that the fire was caused by a battery that exploded during the vehicle’s crushing operation.
She said: “The crew managed to get the situation under control quickly and followed protocol by ejecting the load on site.
“The cause was identified as a battery which exploded during the crushing operation.”
She warned that used batteries can be a fire hazard when mixed with paper and card.
She added: “Used batteries placed into general waste or recycling bins and mixed with paper, cardboard, plastic or other recyclable materials such as cardboard can pose a risk. These often-unspent batteries often have some remaining charge and are referred to as ‘zombie batteries’ as they can ‘come back to life’ and pose a risk to waste facilities causing a danger to workers.
“Any batteries placed into general waste will likely be compacted or punctured during transportation to their final waste treatment facility or damaged during handling.
“When batteries are damaged they can become hot and ignite which is what happened in this case, potentially resulting in fire causing damage to premises and a risk to life.”
This is the third time in the space of weeks that a council bin lorry has caught fire.
In May, fire crews had to be called to the back lane behind West Street, Whickham, after a blaze took hold in a refuse vehicle.
At the time the time the authority said the cause of the fire was unknown but pointed to a power tool battery and small batteries along with paper and cardboard found in the load.
In April a recycling lorry caught fire on the A1 Western Bypass leading to significant traffic delays
Batteries need to be recycled separately from other materials and can be returned to shops or supermarkets with some larger stores now offering a take back scheme for small electrical and electronic appliances too.
Alternatively unwanted electronic goods and batteries can be disposed of at the tip.
Old phone or laptop batteries can pose a particular hazard as they can hold a surprisingly powerful charge, and when they are thrown into a bin there is a serious risk that they could be damaged and touch something metal, like the inside of the bin lorry or even an empty tin can, which can generate sparks which can ignite everything around it.