Mar 15, 2023

Wrongly disposed of batteries cause fires at Salina landfill

Posted Mar 15, 2023 3:08 PM

City of Salina

On Monday, several small fires occurred at the Salina Municipal Landfill.

The fires started as a direct result of a few dozen lithium, nickel-cadmium, and alkaline batteries disposed of in one load at the landfill. Lithium batteries have a tendency to start fires in the waste when impacted by machinery at the landfill and/or in the sanitation trucks during hauling.

Landfill operators are diligent in watching for and removing batteries as they arrive, however, they cannot locate them all especially when mixed with other waste.

While lithium batteries are normally safe, they may cause injury or damage if they have design defects, are made of low quality materials, are assembled incorrectly, are used or recharged improperly or are damaged.

In February 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Status Report on High Energy Density Batteries Project reported over 25,000 overheating or fire incidents involving more than 400 types of lithium battery-powered consumer products that occurred over a five-year period.

When lithium batteries fail to operate safely or are damaged, they may present a fire and/or explosion hazard. Damage from improper use, storage or charging may also cause lithium batteries to fail. Damage to lithium batteries can occur immediately or over a period of time, from physical impact, exposure to certain temperatures (≥130° and ≤32°) and/or improper charging may also cause lithium batteries to fail.

Heat released during one cell failure in a battery can damage nearby cells, releasing more heat in a chain reaction known as thermal runaway. OSHA. (June 20, 2019). Preventing Fire and/or Explosion Injury from Small and Wearable Lithium Battery Powered Devices.

Saline County residents and local non-profits (no businesses) can properly dispose of lithium, sealed lead acid (<11 pounds), button cell (watch), rechargeable lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium and nickel metal hydride batteries at the Salina Household Hazardous Waste Facility, 315 E. Elm Street. The facility is open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays and from 8 a.m. to noon on the first Saturday of each month.

For more information or to schedule an appointment call (785) 826-6638 or visit