Old Kent Road: Batteries warning after fire at Veolia’s recycling centre

Josh Salisbury (20 June, 2019) Environment Emergency services

Lithium batteries can explode when wrongly disposed, which is thought to have been the cause of Monday's fire

14137Veolia's waste management centre in Devon Street

A fire on Monday at Veolia’s recycling centre off the Old Kent Road was likely caused by a wrongly-disposed lithium battery, the company said.

Veolia issued a warning to Southwark residents to safely dispose of their waste after the fire at around 8.30pm at the Devon Street facility, which damaged 500kg of recyclable materials.

Two people safely left the building before the emergency services were called.

There were no injuries, added the London Fire Brigade – but it said the incident could’ve been worse if a sprinkler system hadn’t been in place.

Julie Angulo, General Manager for Veolia Southwark, cautioned of the dangers of wrongly disposing batteries, saying: “No batteries should ever be disposed of in household bins, instead they can be brought to the Household Reuse and Recycling Centre for safe disposal.”

Ms Angulo said she would also like to “praise the quick action of our staff and take this opportunity to remind residents in Southwark to safely dispose of their waste.”

The centre resumed normal service by 3am the following morning.

The London Fire Brigade said the incident served as a reminder to businesses of the importance of sprinkler systems, as it helped to suppress the fire.

“As well as limiting fire damage and being potentially life-saving devices, sprinklers and other fire suppression systems help with business continuity by minimising disruption and allowing businesses to get back to normal as soon as possible,” said a service spokesperson.

Four fire engines and 25 firefighters were called to the scene and the fire was under control at around 10.44pm, the spokesperson added.

Veolia was awarded a 25-year contract to provide refuse collection services for Southwark Council in 2008.

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