27th May 2020

Warning to Somerset residents to avoid putting ‘danger items’ in rubbish bins

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A landfill fire that took days to bring under control has prompted a warning to residents throughout Somerset about what they must not put in their rubbish bins or black sacks.

Around 120,000 tonnes of household rubbish is landfilled in Somerset at two sites – Walpole near Bridgwater and Dimmer near Castle Cary – at a cost to council tax payers of £12 million.

A fire that started in rubbish being landfilled at the Dimmer site in July took Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service and site operator Viridor several days to bring under control.

While the investigation into the Dimmer fire’s cause proved inconclusive, Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) has warned that adding the wrong items to rubbish bins could put lives at risk.

As well as the danger of a landfill conflagration when staff are working or a blaze in a rubbish collection vehicle, a fire in a rubbish bin could spread, threatening homes or business premises

Among the danger items that should never be add to the rubbish bin are:

  • Hot ash or part-burned materials from domestic or garden fires or barbeques.
  • Used portable barbeques whose charcoal may not be completely cold.
  • Household or vehicle batteries as these may short out or cause sparks.
  • Broken glass not carefully wrapped or bagged as it could act as a magnifying lens.
  • Aerosols as they may get hot or be pierced during the landfill process.

The advice is simple in each case:

  • Let ash and portable barbeques completely cool, or fully damp down with water.
  • Recycle vehicle batteries through household collections or recycling sites.
  • Take household batteries to recycling sites or high street stores that collect them.
  • Carefully wrap and bag broken glass, which should also never go in recycling boxes.
  • Use up aerosols completely, do not squash, and then add them to recycling boxes.

A SWP spokesperson said:

“These are common sense precautions to avoid the risk of fire. And recyclable items – including batteries and aerosols, and the rinsed-out aluminium bases of portable barbeques – should never be in household rubbish.”

For information on what can go in rubbish bins or black sacks, and what must never be added, visit www.somersetwaste.gov.uk or call your district council customer services.