Warning issued over binning batteries after third bin lorry catches fire

A warning about binning batteries has been issued after a third Gateshead bin lorry caught fire.

Workers were forced to tip waste onto the Balmoral Drive in Felling[1] on Wednesday morning.

The crew were unhurt and the vehicle not damaged but a spokeswoman for Gateshead Council[2] said the situation could have been “so much worse”.

She also said the fire service didn’t need to be called.

The load will now be quarantined prior to being sent for recovery.

The spokeswoman confirmed that the fire was caused by a battery that exploded during the vehicle’s crushing operation.

She said: “The crew managed to get the situation under control quickly and followed protocol by ejecting the load on site.

“The cause was identified as a battery which exploded during the crushing operation.”

The spokeswoman warned that used batteries can be a fire hazard when mixed with paper and card.

She added: “Used batteries placed into general waste or recycling bins and mixed with paper, cardboard, plastic or other recyclable materials such as cardboard can pose a risk.

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“These often-unspent batteries often have some remaining charge and are referred to as ‘zombie batteries’ as they can ‘come back to life’ and pose a risk to waste facilities causing a danger to workers.

“Any batteries placed into general waste will likely be compacted or punctured during transportation to their final waste treatment facility or damaged during handling.

“When batteries are damaged they can become hot and ignite which is what happened in this case, potentially resulting in fire causing damage to premises and a risk to life.”

This is the third time in the space of weeks that a council bin lorry has caught fire.

Last month fire crews had to be called to the back lane behind West Street, Whickham, after a blaze took hold in a refuse vehicle.

At the time the authority said the cause of the fire was unknown.

However, it later found a power tool battery and small batteries along with paper and cardboard in the load.

In April, a recycling lorry caught fire on the A1 Western Bypass leading to significant traffic delays.

Batteries need to be recycled separately from other materials and can be returned to shops or supermarkets.

Alternatively unwanted electronic goods and batteries can be disposed of at your local tip.


  1. ^ Felling (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)
  2. ^ Gateshead Council (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)