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News & Announcements

November 21, 2019
Oxygen Tank Explosion

On Wednesday, November 20, members of the City’s Environmental Services Division encountered a dangerous situation on a residential waste collection route that should serve as a reminder to all Santa Fe residents to be careful what is placed in trash carts. A moment’s carelessness could injure or even kill someone.

In the neighborhood near Zia Road and Galisteo, three medical oxygen tanks had been placed in a residential trash cart, and one of those tanks exploded while it was being collected. The blast was powerful enough to twist the metal container and could be heard by the entire neighborhood. The trash in the truck load caught fire and the driver was forced to enter into a nearby park and dump the smoldering load. The driver did exactly what he was trained to do, and his quick thinking prevented this from becoming a much more serious incident. Santa Fe Firefighters were called to the scene and were able to extinguish the burning debris; the driver was not injured and damage to the truck is minimal.

“This could have had a much more serious outcome,” said Environmental Services Director Shirlene Sitton. “Imagine if someone had been walking their dog or driving by. We are so grateful that this incident was resolved without injury. Please follow instructions on what you put into your recycling and trash carts.”


  • Medical oxygen cylinders should be returned to the provider.  If that is not possible for some reason, release any remaining oxygen from the used tank, and call ESD for assistance.
  • Leftover chemicals such as paints, cleaners, and automotive fluids are referred to as “household hazardous waste (HHW).”  They should be disposed of through the HHW program available at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station (BuRRT).  For more information, check your residential calendar or
  • Some propane tanks, such as those used for camping, are accepted for recycling in BuRRT’s HHW program.  Call (505) 424-1850 for more information.
  • Rechargeable batteries (such as Lithium Ion batteries) should never be placed in the trash or recycling, as they can explode and cause fires.  There are many retail locations that accept them for recycling, as well as the HHW program at BuRRT.  See our website for a list of recyclers:

Please be responsible with your waste and your recyclables!




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