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February 6, 2023
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BLAZING BATTERIES: Recycler fined $25k for Campbell garbage truck fires

A San Jose recycling company has been ordered by a Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge to pay $25,000 in civil penalties for causing dangerous fires to start in the back of garbage trucks in Campbell.  

The company, iDiskk, LLC, its principal Yue Zou, and her husband Lei Zhang, were all held responsible for improperly throwing away lithium batteries, which burst into flames in three trucks last fall.

No one was hurt in the fires.

Investigators laid out the series of events that sparked the literal rubbish fires:

During an Oct. 13 fire, a garbage truck lifted a bin to dump the load in the street to avoid damage to the vehicle.

However, this caused the bin to contact overhead utility lines, causing a utility pole to snap—and fall to the ground.

“This case demonstrates the risks of throwing lithium-ion batteries away in the regular trash or recycling,” Deputy District Attorney Christopher Judge said in a release. “These fires are incredibly dangerous to the safety of the garbage truck drivers and first responders who must then act quickly to deal with the fire.”

iDiskk, LLC dismantles, is a firm that recycles and disposes of Amazon product returns, some of which contain lithium-ion batteries.

On Sept. 22, Oct. 6, and Oct. 13, fires broke out in garbage truck containers after pickups at iDiskk, LLC’s Campbell location.

“The cause of the fires was determined to be dozens of lithium-ion batteries that were thrown away in the regular recycling, were crushed, and had caught fire,” a Santa Clara County prosecution spokesperson said.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office began investigating iDiskk, LLC after the Campbell Police Department reported a garbage truck fire in late-2021. 

In addition to paying civil penalties, iDiskk, LLC, Zou, and Zhang agreed to never to improperly dispose of hazardous waste again. 

“They also cooperated with the investigation and took steps to improve their compliance with the environmental protection laws brought to their attention by prosecutors,” the spokesperson added.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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