Helium tanks cannot just be placed “as is” in your household trash and taken to a Rutherford County Convenience Center. Why? They pose a tremendous danger if not properly discarded, which happened Saturday, August 1, at the County’s Weakley Lane center…a tank made its way into the trash compactor and exploded upon impact.
According to Solid Waste Director Mac Nolen, the debris made it a clear 100’ feet away from the hopper. “As busy as our Weakley Lane location stays, it’s amazing that no one was injured,” he said. “The explosion gave the center attendant running the compactor quite a scare though, and his ears are still ringing from the bang.”
“The tank was hidden within a bag of regular household garbage,” said Nolen. “This could have turned out much worse.”
So how do you properly expose of a helium tank? Nolen says if you aren’t going to take the time to empty the tank, the only location that will accept it is the Recycling Center at Haley Road.
According to “Balloon Time,” the manufacturer of the tank that exploded, the following are the proper measures for emptying the tank:
1) Ensure your tank is completely empty by pushing down on the black nozzle.
2) Unscrew the black nozzle from the tank.
3) Put on safety glasses and gloves.
4) Using a hammer and screwdriver, knock out the round disk at the back of the tank.
5) Draw a circle around the knocked out portion of the tank and mark it as “EMPTY” with a permanent black marker.
6) Place the empty tank in the recycle bin or drop it off at a local recycling center.
Nolen says if these measures are taken, the empty tanks can be dropped off at any Rutherford County Convenience Center location and placed in the bins marked “Scrap Metal.”
For more information on what is/is not accepted at Rutherford County Recycling and Convenience Center locations, please visit: solidwaste.rutherfordcountytn.gov.