DON’T BIN BATTERIES: Second fire at recycling centre sparks fresh warning
Another fire at a local council waste and recycling centre has renewed concerns about batteries being thrown into household bins.
Gateshead Council, whose Household Waste and Recycling Centre in Wrekenton was recently closed after a serious fire in its waste transfer building, has issued fresh warnings about the safe disposal of batteries after a similar fire broke out last week at the Middlefields Recycling Village in neighbouring South Tyneside.
The fire at Middlefields is believed to have been started by sparks from a phone battery which had been thrown into the waste which then caused other waste to ignite. Staff on site reacted quickly to get the fire under control and limit any damage. Now, Gateshead Council is once again urging the public never to throw old batteries or battery-operated devices into the bin.
Marc Morley, Gateshead Council's service director for Highways and Waste, says: “Two fires in as many weeks show the very real dangers of throwing old phone or laptop batteries into the bin. These types of batteries 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. This is known to generate sparks which can ignite everything around it. We don't yet know for definite what caused the Wrekenton fire, but this remains the most likely cause.
“All councils are currently seeing a huge increase in the numbers of people visiting their household waste and recycling centres and it's clear that many people are spending their lockdown time in clearing out their homes and gardens. This greatly increases the risk of further fires. We are therefore urging the public never to throw old batteries or batter-operated devices like mobile phones into their bins. Instead, please dispose of batteries responsibly at battery recycli
Julie Craigie, regional manager for SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK, says: “If batteries or battery-operated devices are put in a general waste or recycling bin, as soon as they are tipped into the collection trucks they become dangerous and can cause fires. We know that people won’t intentionally cause a fire and risk injury to collection crews and damage to our facilities, but by not disposing of batteries and electronic devices properly that is what can happen.
“We would ask everyone to please take a moment to consider what you are throwing into the bin and if it is battery or a device with a sealed battery unit, please dispose of it correctly. There are battery collection points in most supermarkets and many High Street shops, and small electrical items can be taken you your nearest Household Waste and Recycling Centre.”
Last August a fire at a Hartlepool recycling plant thought to have been caused by a battery led to Gateshead Council issuing a renewed warning to residents not to put batteries in the bin. This followed an outbreak of fire inside a Gateshead Council waste lorry in November 2018 whilst the vehicle was on its rounds in Felling. The crew were forced to dump their entire load into the street to enable the fire service to extinguish the flames.
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