Waste management workers in Central Queensland are putting out up to five fires a day caused by the combustion of batteries.
Isaac Regional Council waste service manager Karl Murdoch said the majority of combustions were caused by the incorrect disposal of lithium-ion batteries, a power source now commonly used in household goods.
‘People don’t think they are doing the wrong thing. They think they’re doing the right thing, putting it in the bin,’ he said. ‘But there’s an awful lot of items which you might not think contain lithium-ion batteries. Things like new electric lawnmowers, the electric whipper snippers, portable hand tools, some of the golf buggies, cordless vacuums and robot vacuums.’
Workers in danger
One machine operator had the shock of her life when she unknowingly drove over one of the incorrectly disposed batteries.
‘The battery took fire, and the fire spread to all the other waste that was around,’ Mr Murdoch said. ‘She had to get her machine out there and get over the machine and call the fire brigade pretty quick. So it was quite a scary experience for her. And it’s quite avoidable.’
Mr Murdoch said fires started when lithium-ion batteries were exposed to air or water. He said the issue was more prevalent during scrap metal disposals, which happened about three times a year.
The council has since put a worker on permanent fire watch for the job.
Mr Murdoch said the scrap metal process was taking several days longer and essentially costing ratepayers more money.
For more information, go to www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-14/household-goods-putting-workers-in-danger/101647204