Battery causes explosion in waste truck

East Northamptonshire council is pleading with residents to take more care when disposing of batteries following an explosion and fire in the back of a waste collection truck.

Collection crews reported an explosion that rocked the vehicle and that could be heard at the end of the street as they travelled along Grumbold Avenue in Raunds at 1pm last Tuesday afternoon (14/03/17).

Image showing damage caused by the exploding battery

The council said that thanks to the swift actions of the crew, the vehicle was parked on a grass verge away from cars parked along the street and the fire service responded quickly and the entire load of waste was dumped to allow for thorough dowsing whilst the road was closed to ensure public safety.

The fire crews from Raunds and Rushden identified the cause of the fire as a nickel–cadmium battery, the sort used in household items such as remote control toys and torches. These batteries contain chemicals that can ignite and should be disposed of at battery recycling points.

Leader of East Northamptonshire council, Steven North, said: “While these items may seem harmless, they could have dangerous implications for our waste collection crews, the public and the environment.

“We’re asking all residents to please keep everyone safe by not putting hazardous waste into household bins but making use of the battery recycling points in shops and household recycling centres.

“We also ask residents to consider the financial cost implications of incorrect disposal. Because of this situation, six tonnes of recycling had to go to landfill as it was contaminated, as well as the cost of the fire crews, the waste crews who supported the situation and kept collection rounds running, the damage to the truck and the clear up costs. Please dispose of these items in the proper way.”


Stuart Smith, operations supervisor for Kier, which operates recycling collections in East Northamptonshire (see letsrecycle.com story), praised the crew for acting quickly in dumping the load in a safe place before the fire could disable the truck’s hydraulics, which likely saved the truck from being consumed by the fire.

He said: “Our crew did exactly what they needed to do to prevent the fire spreading and creating damage to people or property. We would appreciate all residents being vigilant in ensuring hazardous materials are not put in their bins but disposed of as indicated on the ENC website.”

In East Northamptonshire, green lidded recycling bins are emptied fortnightly on alternating weeks to bins for residual waste. Materials collected for recycling at the kerbside include paper, card, glass, plastics, cans, aerosols and cartons.

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