Second bin lorry bursts into flames in latest battery blaze incident

A fresh warning has been issued to people in Tyne and Wear over putting used batteries in their bin after another waste lorry burst into flames.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 4:55 pm
Burning waste tipped out of bin lorry in Whickham (image Gateshead Council)

In the latest incident, fire crews had to be called to the back lane behind West Street, Whickham, Gateshead, on Tuesday after a blaze took hold on the refuse vehicle.

Workers were forced to tip burning waste onto the lane before calling emergency services who arrived at 11.15am.

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Firefighters tackle burning waste tipped out by Gateshead bin lorry (image Gateshead Council)

A spokesman from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that firefighters left the scene at 11.46.

It is understood no one was harmed.

A Gateshead Council spokesman said that the cause of the blaze is not known but firefighters found a power tool battery and small batteries along with the paper, cardboard and aerosols in the load.

He warned that used batteries can be a fire hazard when mixed with paper and card.

He said: “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, potentially resulting in fire causing damage to premises and a risk to life.”

This is the second time in the space of weeks that a council bin lorry has caught fire.

Last month a recycling lorry caught fire on the A1 Western Bypass leading to significant traffic delays.

This incident sparked renewed concerns about the dangers of batteries and small electrical items being thrown into household rubbish and recycling.

Batteries need to be recycled separately from other materials and can be returned to any shop or supermarket with some larger stores now offering a take back scheme for small electrical and electronic appliances too.

Alternatively unwanted electronic goods can be disposed of in the relevant area of your local tip.

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