Incorrect Disposal of Rechargeable Batteries Leads to Garbage Truck Fire

DULUTH, Minn. – Wednesday, a load of trash caught fire in one of Hartel’s Disposal trucks due to improper disposal of rechargeable batteries.

The truck was in route to WLSSD’s transfer station when the driver noticed that the contents in the truck were on fire. The driver contacted the Fire Department who was then able to put out the fire quickly and safely.

After further examination of the material, it was discovered that lithium batteries were the cause.

“Lithium batteries store a lot of energy, a lot of chemical energy and when those things catch fire which can happen when they’re damaged or just improperly charged or reaching hot or cold temperature, they burn really long, and they burn really hot and can cause some serious damage to structures and to the people who are inhaling the fumes,” WLSSD Environmental Program Coordinator, Emma Pardini says.

The fire was caught early so no damage was done to the truck.

Rechargeable batteries don’t belong in the trash and when they are damaged or dented, they are at risk of exploding.

Staff at W.L.S.S.D say they have had two fires occur at the transfer station in the past year due to improper disposal of lithium batteries.

“It’s really important that even if they are sitting dead in your basement, now is the time to go take a peek, see what batteries you have sitting around. Same goes for any rechargeable batteries, any button batteries. Not sure what kind of batteries you have? Give us a call at WLSSD and we can help you figure out where they belong.

Staff say lithium batteries are on the rise as they appear in more household products like e-bikes, computers, and cell phones.

To dispose of these batteries correctly, bring them to your local hazardous waste facility.

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