Thursday 24 August 2017

Baby wipes block up sewage system in Kerry town

Castleisland, inset baby wipes
Castleisland, inset baby wipes

Anne Lucey In Killarney

Baby wipes have been blamed for blocking up a sewage system in a rural town, leading to a discharge of waste into a major angling river in Kerry.

Kerry County Council said the incident took place on the Mulaghi River, a tributary of River Maine. It is being reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A street scene from Castleisland Co Kerry
A street scene from Castleisland Co Kerry

Water Service workers discovered baby wipes had built up and clogged up  the sewers in Castleisland, a council spokesperson said.

Both the council and the EPA said “flushable” wipes can still cause problems as they do not disintegrate.

A common storm water and sewerage system operates in Castleisland.

The recent discharge into the river would “not be representative of the normal working of the sewerage system in the town”, a Council spokesperson said. 

Baby wipes (stock photo)
Baby wipes (stock photo)

Water services were alerted after video footage emerged of sewage pumping out into the river. Locals also complained about a strong smell from a bridge on the edge of town and

Locals believe the discharge was ongoing  over a number of days. When council workers arrived, they found the sewers in the area had become  clogged and blocked due to a build up of the wipes.

The wipes are being flushed down toilets and even a small number can cause a sewer to block, the council said. 

It is not the first time there has been a strange discharge into sewers in Kerry which has led to problems. A jumper had got into the sewerage system in Dingle and caused a blockage there.

Water Services at Kerry County Council is reporting the discharge to the Environmental Protection Agency as an uncontrolled sewage discharge due to a blocked sewer, it said.

Last year in the USA,  warnings were issued  in a number of cities about a growing crisis in sewerage systems because of increased disposal of wipes in toilets.  The wipes were costing millions of dollars to deal with in treatment plants and in blocked sewers..

A bill was introduced in New York to stop wipe companies from advertising them as flushable.

A public awareness campaign has been underway there and in other major cities.

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