A fire on Monday (November 9) at the Tompkins County solid waste center was likely caused by batteries incorrectly placed in the recycling stream.
Barbara Eckstrom, director of Tompkins Recycling & Materials Management, says a load of recyclables from the residential drop-off area began smoking inside the tip floor area at the center at some point during the afternoon.
Casella employees at the facility quickly responded with fire extinguishers and water from an adjacent fire hydrant, said Eckstrom.
Eventually, the Ithaca Fire Department arrived and contained the blaze within an hour.
No injuries or property damage were reported.
Eckstrom continued by advising residents of the following information:
Non-alkaline batteries have the potential to overheat and catch fire, causing other materials in the recycling stream to ignite. Lithium-ion batteries in particular have been known to cause fires at recycling facilities nationwide.
For safety, batteries should never be included in your recycling bin. Alkaline batteries should be placed in a container or bag and added to your trash.
For all other batteries, cover the terminal ends in tape, preferably with clear packing tape. Rechargeable batteries can be recycled at many retail locations or at the Recycling and Solid Waste Center.
A full list of battery drop-off locations in the Tompkins County area can be found here.