BATTERIES: Battery blamed for third bin lorry fire in Gateshead
A warning about binning batteries has been issued after the third bin lorry in a matter of weeks caught fire.
Workers were forced to tip waste onto the Balmoral Drive in Felling this morning.
The crew were unhurt and the vehicle not damaged but the a spokeswoman for the council said the situation could have been “so much worse”.
The load will now be quarantined prior to being sent for recovery.
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.
Last month 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 your local tip.
Words: Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter
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