Batteries Start Fires at Landfill

This week on Monday several small fires occurred at the Salina Municipal Landfill.

Officials say the fires started as a direct result of a few dozen Lithium, Ni-Cad 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.

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, Ni-Cad and NiMh batteries at:

The Salina Household Hazardous Waste Facility
315 E. Elm St.
Thursdays 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
1st Saturday of each month 8 a.m. to Noon

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