Flushable wipes? Maybe not, as Castleisland finds sewers blocked

New York, Sydney, London and Kerry town have distressing problem in common

A discharge of effluent into a Co Kerry river has been blamed on baby wipes blocking up the sewage system of a rural town.

Kerry County Council confirmed the incident took place on the Mulaghi River, a tributary of the River Maine, and was being reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Water services workers from the council found baby wipes being flushed down toilets were responsible for blocking the sewage system in Castleisland - a problem previously seen in cities such as New York, Sydney and London.

The council and the EPA said that so called flushable wipes do not live up to their billing as they do not disintegrate.


The authorities were alerted to the issue after complaints and video footage emerged of sewage pumping out into the river.

A spokesman for the council said there was a common storm water and sewerage system in Castleisland and that the recent discharge into the river would “not be representative of the normal working of the sewerage system in the town”.

Locals believe the discharge was ongoing over a number of days. When council workers arrived to investigate, they found the sewers were clogged due to a build up of baby wipes, which have become an increasingly popular bathroom accessory for adults in recent years.

The wipes are being flushed down toilets and even a small amount can cause a large sewer to block, the council said.

Last year in the US, warnings were issued in a number of cities about a growing problem in sewage systems because of problems linked to the increased use and disposal of sanitary wipes, which were costing millions of dollars to deal with.

A Bill was introduced in New York to stop wipe companies from advertising them as flushable and a public awareness campaign has been under way.

The EPA said it had anecdotal evidence of problems occurring when baby wipes block sewage systems.

Council staff have previously responded to a blockage in a sewage system in Dingle, which was caused by a misplaced jumper.