Warning Issued Against Recycling Propane Tanks

Propane is used widely to fuel heating systems, air conditioning units, grills and camping equipment. It is also the world's most popular alternative vehicle fuel. (image: http://www.propanecouncil.org/)

A Wisconsin recycling plant is warning residents to dispose of propane tanks safely after finding dozens of full gas canisters dumped in its metals collection, jsonline.com reports.

Waukesha County recycling plant manager Jim Lewis said residents had tossed full and partially-full propane bottles into their recyclables – with 55 propane bottles pulled from the metals recycling last week alone. At least a dozen were full of the highly flammable gas.

Though propane is safe when used properly with the right equipment, the gas poses an explosive danger to recycling workers if gas canisters are crushed during compacting or a leak ignites.

“This could have caused a major explosion,” Lewis said.

This past summer, a small explosion and fire resulted at the plant, apparently caused when a one-pound propane cylinder was compacted in a baler at the materials recycling plant. The fire department was called and no one was injured, but the incident demonstrated the potential consequences of gas canisters being thrown in with people’s recycling.

Karen Fiedler, Waukesha County’s solid waste supervisor, said residents should not place propane cylinders in recycling bins, whether empty or partially filled. Gas tanks had to be disposed of properly according to state regulations.

Information on how to safely dispose of your unwanted gas canisters is available from propane retail stores or customers can ask their local propane dealer. State propane gas associations can also provide advice or customers can check out the Propane Education and Research Council’s (PERC) website.

Propane is used by millions of US homes to power heating systems and pools, or to power air conditioning units. It is also used widely to power summer grills, generators and camping equipment. Million of vehicles worldwide run on clean-burning propane autogas, including countless commercial fleets.

PERC says training and informing the gas industry and consumers on the safe handling, storage and use of propane is a top priority, including the proper disposal of propane canisters.

“We take pride in the industry’s exemplary safety record and its commitment to the safety of everyone who works with, uses, and depends on propane.”

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