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Pollution control demands action on flushing wipes

By Christine Simmonds | Aug 05, 2020
Photo by: Christine Simmonds Select Board Chair Pete Lammert installed a sign at the Pump Station on Thatcher Street about the cost of flushing wipes.

Thomaston — Thomaston wants residents to stop flushing money down the toilet.

Select Board Chair Pete Lammert installed a sign at the pump station on Thatcher Street in early July, warning residents about the cost of unclogging the pipes due to flushed wet wipes.

“On July 6, Thomaston paid $487.50 to remove wipes from this pump station,” the sign reads. “Since May, the total for removing wipes is over $2,000.”

Many wet wipes, which are meant for adult use and can be purchased in the same aisle as toilet tissue, claim that they can be flushed after use. This is not the case, however.

Pollution Control Superintendent John Fancy said that even wipes labeled as “flushable” should not go down the toilet. “They don’t break down in the wastewater system,” said Fancy. “Toilet tissue is the only product that’s really safe to flush. Treat other items as trash and put them safely where they belong — in the garbage.”

Lammert echoed Fancy’s statement regarding how to dispose of used wipes. “It’s wonderful to be able to use them,” he said, “but you have to be able to dispose of them in the trash.”

Fancy said the town has had four clogged pumps in the last three months, “and it costs hundreds of dollars to unplug a pump.”

Lammert said residents flushing wipes has been an ongoing problem for years. Last year, Fancy had to pay the pump company to send workers to unclog the pump station.

“When people are flushing wipes, they slow down travel in the pipes,” Lammert said. The wipes get stuck and the town has to make service calls to get the pipes unclogged. This, of course, costs money.

“There is no such thing as a flushable wipe,” Lammert said. All wipes are made of a synthetic material, not wood pulp. “Some of the packages say they’re flushable, but they’re not.”

Flushing wipes down the toilet of a septic system is also problematic. “They are going to cost the owner of that septic system a more frequent clean-out,” Lammert said.

“It’s a waste of their money,” said Lammert. “We could be using that for other things… it’s just so frustrating.”

Lammert added that Thomaston residents who flush wipes down the toilet “are costing themselves money to fix this problem, and it’s really preventable.”

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Eric Thurston | Aug 05, 2020 16:51

Read the greenamerica article above so you can add "fatberg" to your vocabulary.



Posted by: Eric Thurston | Aug 05, 2020 16:48
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