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Recycling Lead-Acid Batteries

How will this Environment Safety & Health Guideline help?

This ES&H Guideline will help staff safely manage used lead-acid batteries for recycling. This will benefit you if your site uses lead-acid batteries or serves as the central repository for used lead-acid batteries and arranges off-site shipment to a recycler.

Note: Please consult ES&H Manual, Chapter 17, “Hazardous Waste," for information on how to manage your used lead-acid batteries.

What type of battery is a lead-acid battery?

Lead-acid batteries supply power to motor vehicles, heavy equipment, and emergency lights. These batteries range in size and have a capacity of six volts or more. They contain hazardous material (lead and acid). Lead-acid batteries are one among many types of batteries. Please consult ES&H Manual for information on how to manage other types of batteries.

How to safely handle used lead-acid batteries

If a lead-acid battery is damaged or is missing a cap, it could leak acid. Battery acid can severely damage your eyes and skin. To protect yourself, use personal protective equipment when handling a battery that may be damaged or leaking (for more information, see ES&H Manual, Chapter 19, “Personal Protective Equipment").

At a minimum, protect yourself from battery acid in the following ways:

  

Wear gloves that are acid-resistant

  

Wear safety glasses

  

Double-bag damaged batteries in polyethylene plastic bags that are at least six millimeters in thickness

  

If you can replace a missing battery cap, do so immediately. Otherwise, consider a battery with a missing cap “damaged" and double-bag the battery in six-millimeter polyethylene plastic bags.

How to mark used lead-acid batteries for recycling

Mark each used lead-acid battery and each double-bagged damaged battery with the date it was taken out of service. Write the date in large letters with a weather-resistant marker (such as indelible ink or paint).

How to safely store used lead-acid batteries for recycling

Battery acid can severely damage your eyes and skin. Use personal protective equipment when handling lead-acid batteries (for more information, see ES&H Manual, Chapter 19, “Personal Protective Equipment"). At a minimum, wear safety glasses and wear gloves that are acid-resistant.

Create a designated area to store used lead-acid batteries in the following way:

  

Store lead-acid batteries apart from other types of batteries

  

Store lead-acid batteries in a single layer. (Stacking increases the risk of short circuits and acid leaks)

  

Use secondary containment that is resistant to acid (such as polyethylene)

  

Have an eyewash station in the area (or a sign indicating the location of the nearest eyewash station)

Keep the following supplies in your lead-acid battery storage area:

  

Gloves that are resistant to acids

  

A supply of polyethylene plastic bags (six millimeter or thicker, and sized to contain the largest battery expected for storage).

  

Rags or disposable wipes (for acid leak clean-up)

  

Appropriate absorbent (for spill clean-up)

  

A weather-resistant pen or paint pen (for marking used batteries)

  

A posted copy of this ES&H Guideline

How to transport used lead-acid batteries on-site

Chapter 17 of the ES&H Manual instructs personnel to contact the Transportation HWMC for disposal of lead-acid batteries. The batteries may be brought to Transportation (in accordance with the instructions in ES&H Manual, Chapter 17) or Transportation staff can pick them up.

Note: It is fine to transport intact lead-acid batteries and damaged lead-acid batteries together, as long as you double-bag each damaged battery in six-millimeter polyethylene plastic bags.

How to ship used lead-acid batteries off-site for recycling

Send lead-acid batteries off-site to a reclamation facility at least every three months (sooner, if the accumulated quantity of batteries is too large for your storage area). For each shipment, use a bill-of-lading with the following information:

  

Date of shipment

  

Description of waste: Spent Lead Acid Batteries

  

The number of batteries included in the shipment

  

Repository's name and address

  

Transporter's name and address

  

The name and address of the reclamation facility

Keep a copy of each bill-of-lading for a minimum of three years.

The transporter of lead acid batteries must comply with the following requirements:

  

No other hazardous material may be transported in the same vehicle with the lead acid batteries.

  

The lead acid batteries must be loaded or secured to prevent damage and short circuits during transit.

  

Other material (such as a dolly or spare tire) in the vehicle must also be secured.

  

The transport vehicle containing lead acid batteries from SLAC may only carry material shipped by the shipper of the lead acid batteries (SLAC).

To ensure that the transporter complies with these requirements:

  

Inspect the vehicle after the batteries have been loaded and secured.

  

Create a document listing the transporter requirements.

  

Have the transporter read and sign the document, acknowledging that they understand and will comply with the requirements.

  

Attach the signed document to the SLAC copy of the Bill-of-lading and retain it for a minimum of three years.

What to do for a battery acid spill

Battery acid can severely damage your eyes and skin. Use personal protective equipment when handling a spill or a leaking battery (for more information, see ES&H Manual, Chapter 19, “Personal Protective Equipment"). At a minimum, wear safety glasses and wear gloves that are acid-resistant.

If battery acid leaks into a secondary containment:

  

Double-bag the leaking battery in six-millimeter polyethylene plastic bags.

  

Clean the spilled battery acid with rags or disposable wipes and appropriate absorbent.

  

Manage the clean-up material as hazardous waste by placing it in an acid debris waste accumulation container provided by the Waste Management Department (WM).

If your work area does not have an acid debris hazardous waste accumulation container:

  

Place the battery acid clean-up materials in a small pail or polyethylene plastic bag

  

Label the pail or plastic bag as hazardous waste (see the section Labeling Hazardous Waste in Chapter 17 of the ES&H Manual).

  

Call Waste Management to remove the spill clean-up material no later than five working days after the spill.

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact your ES&H Coordinator.
A list of the principal ES&H Coordinators is available on the ES&H Web site.

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