The next time you're doing some cleaning out around the house, you might want to take a second look at what you're tossing in the trash. The improper disposal of rechargeable batteries is causing fires at Casper's landfill, according to City and fire officials.

"Anything you have to plug in to charge has a battery in it that has a heavy metal, and those heavy metals are air and water reactive," explained Elizabeth Andress with the City of Casper. "So what happens is it reacts, sometimes violently, which creates fire, smoke, they can shoot across the room as a projectile."

She said it's the main reason a lot of these devices have been banned in checked luggage and you can't throw it in the garbage either, because of what happens to the trash after you toss it.

"You put it in your trash can, the garbage truck comes up, they put it in, they have a big battering ram that smashes that trash to get it all to fit in the truck, and then we take it to the landfill and we have heavy equipment running over the garbage, smashing the trash," said Andress. That causes those batteries to break in the landfill and cause small fires that they she said they're usually are able to handle. "But we don't want a lot of these, we don't want to do this every day, and we definitely don't want to have to call our friends at the Casper Fire Department o have to come up and address our fires."

Officials are becoming more concerned, as the fires are becoming more common. Workers previously uncovered the fires every couple of months. "Now it's every two weeks," said Jason Parks with Casper Fire-EMS, "so it's becoming more prevalent so we just need to make sure we try and stop it before it gets out of control."

You can take rechargeable batteries, or any item containing such batteries, to the Special Waste Facility across from the landfill and drop it off for no charge. That facility is currently open from 7:30am to 4:00pm Monday through Saturday.

If you have any questions of how to properly dispose of any hazardous waste, you can call (307) 235-8246 or visit the City of Casper website.

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