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SWANA Report Examines Increase of Fires at WTE Facilities

SWANA Report Examines Increase of Fires at WTE Facilities

The report looks at two case studies of large-scale fires at waste-to-energy facilities that occurred two months apart.

The Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) Applied Research Foundation (ARF) released a new report, “Fire Prevention and Control at WTE Facilities,” that addresses the issue of preventing and controlling fires that originate in the wastes received and stored at waste-to-energy (WTE) facilities in both the U.S. and Canada.

While the problem of fires in WTE facilities is not new, it’s recently received heightened attention due to the increased disposal of products like lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

“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,” said Jeremy O’Brien, SWANA’s director of Applied Research, in a statement.

The report looks at two case studies of large-scale fires at WTE facilities that occurred two months apart. These fires happend in late 2016 and early 2017 in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The purpose of documenting these incidents is 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,” added O’Brien.

WTE facility managers are encouraged to consider the steps taken at the two case study facilities to remedy the issues that may have contributed to the severity and impact of the fires. Of particular importance is the recommendation to clear the tipping floor 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. 

The report also includes a review of the guidelines recently developed in the United Kingdom to guide 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 is currently only available to SWANA ARF subscribers, but SWANA members receive free access to ARF industry reports one year after publication.

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