Viridor warns against dangers of lithium batteries

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Barry Falgate with Scott Mackellar of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Viridor has issued a warning against lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries after a fire at its site in Dunbar burned 300 tonnes of refuse last month.

It took over 40 hours and 40 firefighters to tackle the blaze on 22 January, which is suspected to have been caused by a damaged lithium battery.

The batteries can be found in a range of household items from children’s toys to toothbrushes and e-cigarettes.

When they are damaged, batteries can project a shaft of flame for several minutes and ignite surrounding waste material.

According to the Environmental Services Association (ESA), 25% of fires reported by its members in 2017-18 were caused by li-ion batteries.

This has increased from 20% in the previous year.

Speaking at a fire prevention briefing at the Dunbar site, Barry Falgate, Scottish landfill manager for Viridor, said: “With the increasing use of lithium ion batteries in everyday household items, fire risks are growing day-by-day and we’re urging everyone to ensure they put the right stuff in the right bin and they dispose of batteries safely.”

Viridor staff identified a list of ‘usual suspects’ which often cause landfill fires.

These included laptops, old mobile phones, cameras and car batteries.

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