CLARK, NJ - It is no secret there has been a run on toilet paper over the last few weeks. The supply of social media memes and jokes about the paper-hoarding trend seem endless, unlike that of the product's actual inventory at stores. The shortage has left many using other options like flushable wipes.
Clark's Department of Public Works Supervisor Scott McCabe is issuing a reminder to the public that flushable wipes are really a misnomer because although they do flush through a typical waste system of a home, they are not disposable and do not break down like toilet paper.
"The material they are made from does not decompose in the sewers, instead they expand, clump together, join in with other materials and completely clog a sewer," said McCabe. "Ultimately it can lead to sewer back-ups into people's homes and cause havoc at sewerage treatment plants."
McCabe said these clogs consist of human waste, coagulated fats and oils, flushable wipes, disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, dental floss, sanitary products and all kinds of garbage that belongs in a trash pail, not the drain. "Sewers were meant for human waste and toilet paper, nothing else, not wipes, garbage or grease," he added.
McCabe is now using the expression "No Wipes in the Pipes" after a Facebook friend commented with those words on his post about not flushing wipes. McCabe is asking residents to throw garbage and every type of wipe used in a household into the pail and not the sewers.
He said this same situation plagues cities and towns around the world. "New York and other cities are suing manufacturers of the wipes because of the destruction they are causing in sewer systems and treatment plants," he said.
New York City's Environmental Protection site refers to these massive clogs in the sewers as 'fatbergs' and started a "Trash it Don't Flush it" campaign for citizens some time ago encouraging residents to only flush toilet paper with waste and not wipes, garbage or kitchen oils and grease down the pipes.
The Museum of London has brought the problem into the public arena with an exhibit called "Fatberg! Exhibiting the Monster of Whitechapel." The exhibit is based on one of the largest fatbergs ever discovered in a London sewer. Whitechapel's fatberg weighed 286,600 lbs. and stretched 820 feet. Get a close up look at a fatberg here:
"Sewers are meant to carry waste products, things that break down. They were never designed for the amount of grease, wipes and garbage people put in them," said McCabe just after his crew spent three hours unclogging a local sewer.
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