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Mass of sanitary wipes plugs Thunder Bay sewer

Toilet paper is the only tissue suitable for flushing down the toilet
sanitary wipes
City workers had to clear a sewer blockage caused by a mass of wipes on Mar. 31, 2020 (City of Thunder Bay photo)

THUNDER BAY — The increased use of sanitary wipes and other tissue due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing headaches for City of Thunder Bay sewer and wastewater personnel.

Rather than discarding wipes in the trash, people are flushing them down the toilet.

This caused a serious problem Tuesday, when a sewer on the north side of town became plugged by a mass of tissue eight to nine metres long.

The city had to dispatch a crew to clear the blockage.

In interviews Wednesday, officials declined to identify the exact location.

The city issued a statement, however, asking residents not to flush wipes down the drain, even if they are advertised as "flushable."

"Wipes can block homeowner and municipal sewer pipes, causing sewer backups and disruptions to the treatment processes at the Water Pollution Control Plant. Only toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet," the advisory stated.

Examples of tissue not suitable for fhe sewer system include:

  • bathroom wipes (often advertised as flushable)
  • baby wipes
  • paper towels or napkins
  • household cleaning wipes
  • body cleaning wipes
  • feminine hygiene products (sanitary napkins, tampons and panty-liners)
  • makeup remover wipes

Residents are asked to dispose of all the above items in the garbage.


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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