By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Drones, vape pens, power tools and cell phones all have one thing in common: Lithium-ion batteries.
That means none of those objects should end up in a waste pile at the Knott Landfill.
But many people don’t know that. In the past few years, Lithium-ion batteries have become a huge problem for the landfill’s officials.
Just in the past week, three fires started at the landfill because people didn’t dispose of the batteries properly.
“Unfortunately what people are doing is throwing them in the trash and they’re a real big problem for us,” Operations Manager Chad Centola said. “As you can see, the operations out here includes a lot of heavy equipment. Once the casing on the battery breaks open and interacts with air, it creates a very hot fire.”
Centola said the landfill averages about two to three fires a month from the batteries, although they had a spike of three in the past week.
“We’ll start to see smoke coming out of a pile of garbage and we’ll get on it right away,” Centola said. “We’ll push the load out with heavy equipment and try to spread it out, try to find the source and we’ll water the heck out of it.”
The tactic has worked so far, but the problem could easily pile up.
“Under the wrong circumstances, we might not see it until it’s too late, Centola said.
Centola hopes the public will check to see if what is going in the trash includes a Lithium-ion battery.
Lithium batteries can be disposed of at the Knott Landfill’s recycling center in a battery container or at a hazardous waste collection event.