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Teletubbies, ducks, dental instruments and underwear 'blocking Britain's sewers'

27 April 2018

Drainage industry professionals at Lanes for Drains - part of Lanes Group Plc, the UK’s largest drainage contractor - have been sharing some of the strangest items they have found in the UK’s drains and sewers over the past couple of years, as part of a drive to encourage the public to think more about what they put down the drain.

Some of the most unusual things found during recent excursions underground include litres of blood, Teletubbies toys, boxer shorts, dentist tools, a shovel, a traffic cone and nail varnish bottles.

According to previous research by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), utilities companies have previously discovered bizarre objects such as prosthetic limbs, half a car, motorbikes, false teeth and a settee, in the drains and sewers.

There are some things that end up in the sewers that the public cannot control, however. Animals often find themselves in the sewer system, and Lanes for Drains engineers have recently stumbled across a fox, as well a duck that made its home among the sewage, and Spencer the spaniel, who was stuck in a drain for three days before being rescued.

Michelle Ringland, Head of Marketing at Lanes for Drains, said: “Some of the things our engineers find on what are expected to be routine inspections is quite amazing.

"On the face of it, some of the items found can be humorous - but sadly there is nothing funny about crumbling sewers, flooded homes and roadworks as our experts remove the blockages.

"We have been using the hashtag #thinkaboutit to encourage the public to do just that - think carefully about what they put down the drain.”

This comes after the excavation of the ‘monster’ Whitechapel fatberg - a 130-tonne, 250-metre mass of congealed fat, oil, grease and ‘unflushable’ items such as wet wipes, condoms and sanitary products.

Lanes Group worked alongside Thames Water to excavate the fatberg, which is just one of some 400-600 fatbergs that the company tackles every single month.

Michelle said: “While the likes of Teletubbies, boxer shorts and dentist tools capture the imagination, the reality is the much bigger threat to the sewer system is the lack of awareness among the public of the dangers of putting what we call the 12 ‘Main Offenders’ down our drains.

“They are: fats, oils and grease (FOG); wet wipes; nappies and pads; sanitary products; tampons, applicators and wrappers; condoms; razor blades; bandages and plasters; dental floss; medicines and syringes; cotton buds; and hair.”

To improve awareness of what should and should not go down the drain, the company recently launched the ‘Fatberg Fighters’ campaign, working with a range of schools across the country to teach children about how to treat our drainage system with care, so they can in turn teach their families good practice.

This comes after a survey conducted by Lanes for Drains found that 46% of the nation pour cooking oil or fat down the sink.

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