Tulsa Recycling Plant Process At Standstill As Crews Repair Fire Damage

Wednesday, May 5th 2021, 6:14 pm
By: Amelia Mugavero

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Recycling in the Tulsa metro is on pause, including cities from Broken Arrow to Jenks, as the recycling plant works to repair the damage caused by a fire last month.

The company operating the plant, American Waste Control, said they plan to get it running in seven months.

Paul Ross, Vice President of American Waste Control, said the fire started from a lithium-ion battery that should not have been recycled. That fire damaged the plant's main sorting machine called "The Murph." He said the fire also caused extensive damage to the roof and walls, which all had to be repaired. 

"Northeast Oklahoma feels the squeeze of not being able to recycle. And to be honest with you it’s been heart wrenching because this place is not just affected, but jobs are affected. Oklahoma base manufacturers are having to look for materials and other places," Ross said. 

Ross said they need to replace the Murph and hope to have it running in seven months. 

"Life throws challenges. This last year has had a share of challenges, but Mr. Murphy is going to come back stronger and bigger and better than ever," Ross said. 

Right now, they are hand-sorting and recovering about 15 percent of materials. They are taking the remainder to their renewable energy plant in Sands Springs or to the waste energy plant.

Ross said in the meantime, he urges Oklahomans to keep recycling.

"Just keep those behaviors up because obviously in a matter of months it will be recycled again, and in the meantime, its being used as renewable energy," Ross said. 

Ross said they are looking at installing technology to better detect flammable items like batteries. He said they estimate the repairs to cost $7 million.