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Lycoming County's landfill to begin collecting batteries, spreads awareness

Lycoming County Resource Management Services (LCRMS) will start collecting rechargeable and single use batteries.

Starting March 1, residents can take their used batteries to the recycling facility at the landfill on Alexander Drive in Montgomery to dispose of them.

Two employees of the LCRMS attended Thursday's Lycoming County Commissioners meeting to spread awareness of the program. They also stressed the danger that comes along with lithium and other batteries.

LCRMS said batteries should not be thrown in the trash and recycling bins. “Batteries are a fire hazard in collection from curbside to the transportation to inside the recycling and waste facilities,” said Lauren Strausser, the recycling coordinator for the LCRMS.

Last June, there were two fires at the landfill believed to be caused by lithium batteries. Strausser said batteries have caused fires at the recycling center as well.

To properly dispose of batteries, especially rechargeable batteries, Strausser recommends wrapping the shiny side of the battery with clear tape or packing tape and store no longer than a year.

Fire hazards occur with batteries when they overheat or hit a thermal runaway, according to the LCRMS Director Jason Yorks. Overcharging is one of the primary ways that happens.

“They’re unstoppable and you will not get a fire company to your household in time before the damage is done,” he said.

Lithium batteries also release a toxic gas when damaged. It can be dangerous as it creates its own oxygen, according to Yorks. The landfill takes extra precautions when handling damaged batteries and urges the public to call their offices at 800-326-9571 regarding disposal.

LCRMS will accept single use batteries such as AAs, AAAs and button batteries, rechargeable lithium batteries, lead acid car batteries and jumpstart pack batteries. Items containing batteries that cannot be removed, such as electric tooth brushes, are also accepted. The landfill will not accept vape batteries, electric vehicle batteries or any large items.

Battery disposals are accepted from residents within the landfill’s service area including Lycoming, Northumberland, Union, Snyder, Montour, Columbia and Luzerne counties.

Strausser told WVIA that the program will continue to evolve as time goes on. Currently, the public can take used batteries to Lowe’s, Stapes and other outlets for disposal.

“This is just an option. I just beg the public to be patient, read the instructions, please cover the terminals, get a hold of our office for any questions… Just try to help alleviate the backup with these batteries because batteries sitting around are an issue,” Yorks said.

Chase Bottorf is a graduate of Lock Haven University and holds a bachelor's degree in English with a concentration in writing. Having previously been a reporter for the Lock Haven news publication, The Express, he is aware of the unique issues in the Lycoming County region, and has ties to the local communities.

You can email Chase at chasebottorf@wvia.org