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Massive clog of ‘flushable’ wipes removed from SC sewers by divers, officials say

‘Flushable’ wipes are clogging Bellingham’s sewers

It turns out flushable wipes aren't so flushable, or biodegradable, after all, say Bellingham officials at Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.
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It turns out flushable wipes aren't so flushable, or biodegradable, after all, say Bellingham officials at Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The snarl of “flushable” wipes that clogged South Carolina sewers was so thick, it took a team of divers three trips to remove it Monday, the Charleston Water System said.

The Lowcountry utility posted some photos on Twitter of what was exhumed from the sewers. The pictures show a gnarled, twisted clump that is overflowing from the bed of a John Deere front loader.

The water system tweeted its divers needed so many trips into the sewer to identify and unclog the obstruction.

The Charleston utility might have had a suspicion about the clog, since a similar heap of wipes was removed last October, according to the tweet.

The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department demonstrates how they inspect sewer lines using a remote camera.

Less than a year ago, divers submerged about “90 feet into raw sewage” to remove the mound of wipes, The State reported.

The water system tweeted more than two loads of the wipes were pulled from the sewers in October.

A baseball and a hunk of metal were also recovered by the Charleston utility, which tweeted only three things should be flushed down a toilet: “#1, #2, and toilet paper.”

Noticeably absent from that list were wipes.

Wet wipes have caused problems for sewer systems around the world. A story in The New York Times said water and sewer officials spent $18 million dollars over five years on wet wipe-related sewer problems.

People in are consistently flushing the wrong things down the toilet, and that can cause big problems. Here's a helpful guide from the city of Tacoma, Wash., on what not to flush or pour down the drain.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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