Fatberg: Kitten, scooter and Christmas tree in sewers


Bikes, a family of frogs and a six-foot Christmas tree. No, it’s not an obscure verse from the Sound of Music.

These items have all actually been recovered from the Northern Ireland water drainage system.

NI Water have revealed the list after they had to remove a large “fatberg” from Belfast city centre.

Media captionStaff clear the fatberg from under the Dublin Road

And they are urging people in Northern Ireland to be responsible and not flush inappropriate items down the toilet.

Unusual items found in NI sewers

  • Traffic cones
  • A kitten found alive in Ballyclare Wastewater Treatment Works
  • A scooter
  • Toy cars
  • A six-foot Christmas tree
  • Bikes and prams
  • A golf bag
  • A school bell – approximately one-foot-high
  • A family of frogs feeding on the fats, oil and grease
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Barbie dolls
School bell taken from sewerImage copyrightNI WATER
Image captionA school bell was one of the items found in the sewer system

£5m spent clearing blockages

In the last two years, NI Water has spent more than £5m clearing blockages from the sewer system.

Almost 80% of these blockages were caused by fat, oil and grease (FOG) and inappropriate items.

‘Entire car engine’

Gavin McCready, Networks sewerage manager, said: “You find people put all sorts of things into manholes. Christmas trees, washing lines and building material like timber and rubble.

“This can cause significant problems. I remember a fork got trapped in a joint in the pipe. It sounds like a small item but everything started to build up behind it.

“We had another incident in Lisburn where we had to remove an entire car engine from a manhole.

Baby seat from sewerImage copyrightNI WATER
Image captionA baby seat was recovered from a sewer in Antrim

Other items recovered from our drains

  • A sofa
  • Car bumpers
  • Dust bins
  • Carpets
  • Baby car seat
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • A banister
  • Bart Simpson
  • Engine parts
  • False teeth
Items from sewer systemImage copyrightNI WATER
Image captionSome of the items flushed down the drain by people

‘Serious damage’

Mr McCready continued: “These blockages mean we have to use cameras, jet equipment and sometimes have to dig down to remove these items.

“We do recover a lot of things like mobile phones, which have accidentally fallen out of people’s pockets.

Scooter taken from sewer systemImage copyrightNI WATER
Image captionA scooter was just one of the items recovered by NI Water

“But people are deliberately putting large items like bikes and toys into the sewer system and I would urge them not to do it.

“Not only does it cause serious damage, tampering with manhole covers is very dangerous and can lead to serious injuries.”


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