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Sewer Lines Constricted By "Flushable" Wipes

BEAVER TWP. (KDKA) -  Haley Nation of East Rochester Borough in Beaver County, says she uses wipes everyday.

"Between cleaning hands up or cleaning my makeup off," she said.

East Rochester Borough is a small town, that lately is dealing with a big problem, wipes being flushed down toilets, and getting stuck in the sewer lines and pump station. The borough of East Rochester has had to replace two of their pumps, at a cost of $28,000.

"The wipes got stuck in the one and it burned out the bearings inside of it," said Matt Sharpless, who handles maintenance in East Rochester. Each time the sewer line is stuck, he has to dig out the wipes. He says it happens about twice a month.

"I don't think people don't realize they don't biodegrade," said Sharpless. "I've seen them in pump stations, and the sewer plants and stuff and they've been down there for more than a year."

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East Rochester has even put messages in their borough newsletter asking residents to avoid flushing wipes down the toilet. And the problem is being seen in other Western Pennsylvania towns and cities, including Pittsburgh.

Sharpless says it's not just the baby wipes that are creating the problem. Disinfecting wipes, even makeup remover wipes, when any of them are flushed down the toilet, it creates a problem.

Industry experts say it's important for consumers to read the labels on the wipes they use to learn if they are flushable. For those that are flushable, it's recommended that only one or two wipes at most are flushed at a time. Also, flushable does not necessarily mean biodegradable.

"I think it's pretty weird to flush them down the toilet, I think they should be thrown in the garbage," added Allyssa Meyers, who also lives in East Rochester.


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