From mobile phones to Peppa Pig toys - the unusual items causing sewage blockages in the North East

Sunderland and County Durham have been named as some of the worst areas in the North East for sewage blockages – with people flushing the likes of mobile phones and toys down the toilet.

Saturday, 9th November 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th November 2019, 4:57 pm

Northumbrian Water has revealed the worst areas in the North East for sewage blockages which have been caused by wrongly flushed items.

In Sunderland there have been a shocking 676 blockages so far this year.

And in the combined County Durham postcode areas of SR8, DH7, DL14 and DH8, which covers Peterlee, Horden and Easington there have been a shocking 680 blockages this year.

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A Peppa Pig toy was found in Houghton.

Meanwhile in the TS10 postcode area of Redcar and Cleveland there have been 163 blockages.

This comes as people are wrongly flushing items such as wet wipes down the toilet instead of flushing just pee, paper and poo down the drain.

Wet wipes are one of the biggest causes of blockages because they usually clog up inside the pipe.

They can also meet with forming fatbergs, which form when fats, oils and grease (FOG) are poured down the drain, and harden.

A mobile phone was found Sunderland.

FOG and items such as wet wipes, nappies, cotton buds, condoms and sanitary products that are disposed of down the toilet instead of being put in a bin, can lead to the sewer network backing up.

But Northumbrian Water has also come across more unusual items flushed down the toilet – with staff even finding a mobile phone in Sunderland.

Meanwhile a Peppa Pig toy, shotgun cartridge and electric toothbrush were found in Houghton.

And in Washington pantie liners, a clip on toilet air freshener and two bags of rubble were found.

Northumbrian Water have dealt with hundreds of blockages in Sunderland and County Durham this year.

So far in 2019, Northumbrian Water have cleared more than 9,500 blockages within its 29,000 kilometres of sewer network across the North East.

Now the company is urging the public to not use toilets as a bin in an effort to help protect our rivers and seas.

Last month they held campaign Unblocktober, launched by the Lanes Group to raise awareness of the problem.

Richard Warneford, Northumbrian Water's wastewater director, said: "Wet wipes are one of the biggest causes of blockages for us and we really need our customers' help to wipe out the flushing of wipes.

“Despite wet wipes being promoted as ‘flushable' they rarely are, as they may leave your toilet bowl when flushed but can clog up householders' plumbing and can also cause blockages in our network of sewer pipes.

"Blockages can have devastating consequences to people's homes being flooded and the environment being polluted, which is so saddening to see.”

Here's a rundown of the top TEN hot spot postal areas in the North East and a breakdown of blockages found in 2019:

1. NE34 – South Shields (313 blockages)

2. NE5 - Newcastle upon Tyne (199 blockages)

3. TS19 - Stockton-on-Tees (190 blockages)

4. DL1 - Darlington (184 blockages)

5. DH7 - County Durham (175 blockages)

6. SR8 - County Durham (170 blockages)

7. DL14 - County Durham (169 blockages)

8. NE23 - Northumberland / North Tyneside (168 blockages)

9. DH8 - County Durham (166 blockages)

10. TS10 - Redcar and Cleveland (163 blockages)