Friday 20 January 2017

Baby wipes block up sewage system in Kerry town

Anne Lucey In Killarney

Published 09/09/2016 | 22:08

Castleisland, inset baby wipes
Castleisland, inset baby wipes

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.

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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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