Once again lithium batteries cause fires in garbage trucks

by stephen milligan - the walton tribune

For the third time, one of Peach State Disposal’s garbage trucks caught fire while out and about.

And once again, it was because of a battery.

Ron Miller, president of Peach State Disposal, said all the recent garbage truck fires are the result of improper disposal of lithium batteries — the type of rechargeable batteries found in laptops, cell phones and other electric devices.

“This is the third fire we’ve had,” Miller said. “The chemicals in those batteries have to remain separated. If they start leaking, once those chemicals combine, they ignite. And once they ignite, you can’t really put it out. You have to just let it burn itself out.”

Miller said the most recent fire —which occurred on Highway 138 near Youth Jersey Road — had fire fighters standing there pouring water on the burning battery simply to contain it until the fire finally exhausted its fuel and went out.

“This one was a laptop battery,” Miller said. “Often, they’re iPhone batteries. But they simply don’t belong in our trucks. You have to recycle lithium batteries. They don’t go in your garbage can.”

Lithium batteries can be recycled, at no cost to the customer, at a variety of places, including certain retail stores like Home Depot.

Miller encourages locals to keep this in mind when they next have an electric device to dispose of containing a rechargeable battery, which can often include not only computers and phones now but many rechargeable electric tools, from drills to leaf blowers and more.

“With Christmas coming up, people are going to be getting new laptops and new phones and just throw the old ones in the trash while thinking, ‘No big deal,’” Miller said. “We just want people to rethink that and keep those batteries out of the trash can so we don’t see this happening again.”

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