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DON'T FLUSH: Disposable wipes clog sewage treatment plants

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@RobOlsonFOX9: Gazing into a river of raw sewage (and trying to breathe carefully) What did you do at work today? @RobOlsonFOX9: Gazing into a river of raw sewage (and trying to breathe carefully) What did you do at work today?
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EAGAN, Minn. (KMSP) -

Across the country, more and more wastewater systems are dealing with some crappy situations caused by disposable wipe products that claim to be "flushable."

At the Seneca Treatment Plant in Eagan, they've seen a lot of odd items clogging up the works.

"We found a pair of false teeth one time," Dave Gardner recalled. "The guy actually ended up claiming them."

Other common finds include children's toys, but anything larger than an inch is automatically filtered out from any of the seven wastewater treatment plants operated by the Metropolitan Council. The junk is then dumped onto a conveyor belt and sent to a landfill -- but there's one item lining the strainer that is causing a stink.

The disposable wipes that people are flushing away are growing in number, but Gardner said they can sneak by the screens and cause issues with pump maintenance.

Meanwhile, more and more wipes -- for both babies and adults -- are being billed as flushable. As a result, more and more cities are saying, "Please don't."

In London, a bus-sized "fat-berg" clogged a sewer over the summer. What was it? A congealed mix of cooking fat and disposable wipes.

"If it's not toilet paper, I'd throw it in the trash," Gardner recommended. "You don't want to plug up your own system either."

Toilet paper breaks down pretty quickly, but the wipes are more dense and course. Since that means it's bound for the filter anyway, waste treatment systems say it's best to toss it in the trash because it'll end up there anyway and will help avoid maintenance problems.

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