Battery and Electronics Recycling Inc.
- Battery dumping is NOT allowed at this site!
- Household alkaline batteries can be put in the regular household garbage.
- Reclaim program to take used car batteries and get a rebate Exit
- Locations to drop off household rechargeable batteries and cell phone batteries for freeExit
- Information on business and household battery recycling:
Battery and Electronics Recycling Inc. (BERI), 325 W. Front St., Mount Horeb, WI, is a warehouse filled with hundreds of thousands of discarded batteries (including lithium metal, lithium ion, nickel cadmium, alkaline, and lead acid) in containers stacked in three large rooms. According to historical records, BERI started operating at this location as a universal waste handler in late 2016 and was evicted by the building owners in December 2017.
Lithium-ion batteries are a safety and fire hazard because they contain a flammable electrolyte and may become pressurized when damaged, causing them to rupture. The threat of a spontaneous fire or explosion from an accidental short-circuit or rupture of a lithium-ion battery is high and will increase as the ambient, or naturally occurring, temperature rises. A fire can also burn thousands of nickel cadmium batteries that may release thousands of pounds of cadmium into the neighborhood.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources discovered the abandoned batteries when staff conducted site visits and inspections in March 2018. WDNR asked EPA to conduct a “time-critical removal” in October 2019 because the owner and operator of the warehouse appear to be unable to pay for a battery cleanup.
EPA inventoried the abandoned batteries and electronic waste in December 2019 to supplement the WDNR’s 2018 inspection.
A seasonal shutdown of the site was completed on Nov. 6, 2020. Four to five weeks of work remain when the cleanup resumes in spring 2021.
Equipment and materials were moved to a truck trailer for storage. All work has been completed in rooms 2 and 3. Those rooms have been returned to the property owner. A portion of room 1 is being used for storage of remaining batteries.
About 60,000 pounds of batteries, which are properly stored in U.S. Department of Transportation-approved containers with a fire suppressant, remain onsite. All batteries have been secured, placed in nearly 150 drums, and packaged so they are safely stored over winter. When these drums are shipped out in spring 2021, the cleanup will be deemed complete.
Before closing down for the winter, site walks were done with the Mount Horeb Fire Department to address any concerns pertaining to how the batteries in Room 1 are being stored.
In 2020, EPA contractors worked from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. 5 days/week. As of early November, they packed and shipped off for recycling about 150,000 pounds of lithium batteries and about 200,000 pounds of wet nickel cadmium batteries to the Batteries Solutions recycling facility in Wixom, Mich. Contractors also shipped about 15,000 pounds of alkaline batteries to a permitted solid waste landfill facility in Watertown, Wis.
An automatic bagging machine was delivered to the site which enabled workers to load about 25 batteries a minute. They also monitored work areas for volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and mercury vapor, three times/day. No threats to on-site staff or nearby residents were noted.
Because the historic haphazard storage and poor condition of the batteries pose a threat of fire and release of hazardous materials into the surrounding residential neighborhood, contractors and EPA were on fire watch all day while onsite and conducted a fire watch walk-through on the weekends.
The cleanup began in March 2020. It involves the removal of approximately 500,000 pounds of various types of abandoned and discarded batteries including lithium and nickel cadmium. Hazardous substances contained in the batteries, including lead, nickel, cobalt lithium, manganese, copper, and sulfuric acid, are also being removed. Electronic wastes were also packaged and shipped offsite for recycling.
EPA is working closely with Public Health Madison & Dane CountyEXIT, Mt. Horeb Fire Department, Public Works, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Federal agencies specializing in battery recycling are also being consulted. These include EPA Region 5’s recycling staff in the Land, Chemicals and Redevelopment Division and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration battery industry experts. They are identifying cost-effective ways to safely package the batteries for transportation.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, EPA personnel and contractors are adhering to protective measures including social distancing, increased sanitation, and the use of face masks.
Further information on the cleanup is detailed in a February 2020 document called an Action Memorandum.