Solid Waste & Recycling

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New report focuses on fire safety


SILVER SPRING, Maryland – Fires in waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities are becoming a growing problem, particularly because of the increasing numbers of lithium-ion batteries in the waste stream.

A new report by the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) Applied Research Foundation (ARF) addresses the issue of preventing and controlling  fires that originate in the wastes received and stored at WTE facilities in the United States and Canada.

“As with all solid waste management facilities, the issue of fire prevention and control at WTE facilities is growing in importance, in part, due to the increased processing and disposal of Li-ion batteries and similar products” says Jeremy O’Brien, director of the SWANA Applied Research Foundation.

The report, “Fire Prevention and Control at WTE Facilities,” examines two case studies of large-scale fires at WTE facilities two months apart. These fires occurred in late 2016 and early 2017 in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. The incidents were documented to identify capital and operational improvements that were made as a result of the fires.

“The purpose of this report is to help WTE facility managers identify and implement effective response procedures that will minimize the impacts of spontaneous fires that originate in wastes offloaded at WTE facilities for processing,” says O’Brien.

It is recommended that the tipping floor be cleared at the end of each day to create areas of separation between the wastes on the tipping floor and the refuse pit, and to churn the waste in the refuse pit on a regular basis.

WTE facility managers are encouraged to consider using these measures to remedy the issues that may have contributed to the severity and impact of the fires.

The report also includes a review of new UK guidelines for the development of fire prevention plans for new WTE facilities and to identify how these guidelines can be used to improve fire protection strategies currently in place for WTE facilities in North America.

SWANA urges WTE facility managers to minimize future fire risks and impacts at their facilities by following the recommendations presented in this report.

The full report, “Fire Prevention and Control at WTE Facilities” is currently only available to SWANA ARF subscribers. SWANA members receive free access to ARF industry reports one year after publication.

To learn more, click here for the Executive Summary of the new report.


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