A surge in metal thefts has sparked a warning that gas cylinders could expose scrap metal and other waste sites to danger from escaping gases.
Doug Thornton, chief executive of the British Compressed Gases Association, said there were thousands of cylinders in circulation and some were stolen for their gases, “but more frequently for the scrap value of the metal”.
He said: “This is a disturbing trend because the thieves will have little concern over the safety of themselves or the people to whom they sell stolen cylinders, and will not care about releasing gases into the environment.”
He said only gas companies could declare cylinders as scrap. Waste plant managers should be aware that most were stolen, he added, and they had a duty to take reasonable steps to get the owners’ permission before destroying a cylinder.
Cylinders’ rightful owners would normally collect them, he said.
Thornton also called for the return of the specialist metals crime units set up after the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 took effect.
This echoed a call last month from the British Metals Recycling Association for funding to properly enforce the Act.