Shropshire sewer blocked by four tonnes of fresh concrete

8th June 2017

Among the things Severn Trent teams would hope never to find in the company’s 91,000km of sewer pipes, four tonnes of fresh concrete is pretty high on the list.

But that was exactly what teams found in Broseley after a third party-operated drilling rig went straight through one of Severn Trent’s sewers in the town, with the four tonnes of concrete the drillers were using to fill the hole going straight into the sewer system.

And, after the concrete blocked a sewer overflow, the liquid concrete also made its way into a local water course.

Jason Phillips, Severn Trent Waste Team Manager for Shropshire and Powys, said: “We had to act fast because we knew it was going to set and, if it did that, we knew we’d be in real trouble.

“So we used high pressure jetting to clear the initial blockage and then spent a week cleaning the sewer with a special machine before doing the chambers the old fashioned way – with a shovel and a bucket.

“It wasn’t the most pleasant job in the world but we knew we had to get it done quickly or we could have had a completely blocked sewer which really wouldn’t have been pleasant for our customers.”

As soon as the drilling company was told what had happened, they shut down their operations and joined forces with Severn Trent, the local authority and the Environment Agency to clear the concrete from the sewer, highway drains and from the water course.

While four tonnes of concrete is an extreme example of what Severn Trent has found down its sewers, the company is running a Sewer Savvy campaign to encourage customers to think about what they should put down their toilets, drains and sinks.

Only paper, pee and poo should down toilets, even wipes that claim to be flushable more often than not simply end up blocking sewers, sometimes creating massive ‘ragbergs’ that have to be cleared by hand. The same goes for sinks, where tipping fat, oil and grease down the plug leads to ‘fatbergs’ that can block sewers and can cause homes to flood.