A Waste Technical Specialist was packaging used batteries for disposition in a waste handling and storage area at the Energy Systems Laboratory. During an evaluation of a Lithium battery against the waste acceptance criteria it was determined that the battery exceeded the allowed capacity. Discussions were held with the generator/researcher and it was suggested that if the individual cells were separated it would meet the waste acceptance criteria and a decision was made to separate the cells. This work was low voltage and did not require a Lockout/Tagout. To separate the cells the Waste Specialist cut a bundle of battery leads containing 5 to 10 wires. As the wires were cut a spark and a cloud of smoke occurred. After the event happened work was stopped, the battery was placed in a safe configuration, and proper notifications were made. The Waste Specialist was wearing the required personnel protective equipment and was not injured during the event. An investigation determined that when the wire bundle was cut it completed a circuit and shorted several of the individual cells.
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