The sewage system in the U.K. is in danger of going into “gridlock” as people unable to buy toilet paper during the coronavirus panic have turned to alternatives that are clogging pipes.
As the Guardian reported, experts are warning residents not to use kitchen paper towels or wet wipes for their bathroom needs, saying that these can “overwhelm” the U.K.’s sewers and lead to “gridlock.” Across the U.K. and in other countries across the globe, panicked shoppers have stocked up on toilet paper, emptying shelves and forcing shoppers unable to find bathroom tissue to use the best alternatives available.
Some of the bathroom crisis is being manufactured on purpose, the report noted. It found that one eBay user in the U.K. is selling a 72-pack of toilet paper on the site for triple its price. The same seller has listed a number of other bulk cleaning items with sharp markups, the report found.
The U.K.’s sewage system has been known to experience problems due to a high number of people using non-flushable wipes, which can get caught and accumulate throughout sewage systems that are sometimes hundreds of years old. These clogs can often grow and accumulate fat and grease flushed into the system from people’s kitchens, turning into what sewage experts call “fatbergs.”
As The Inquisitr reported, one massive blockage in the Victorian-era sewer tunnel in the east side of London took a massive effort to remove. The clog was dubbed the “Whitechapel fatberg” and grew to a size of more than 820 feet, weighing a total of 260,000 pounds. The massive clog consisted of a number of other objects flushed down toilets, including diapers.
With a large number of residents still forced to use substitutes for toilet paper amid the coronavirus panic, officials are once again warning that the fatbergs could grow to massive sizes if they keep flushing.
“We are seeing shortages of toilet paper but worryingly also shortages of paper kitchen towels and industrial paper towel used, for example, in garages and workshops and other wipe products,” Richard Wilding, professor of supply chain strategy at Cranfield School of Management, told the Guardian.
“If kitchen towels, baby wipes or industrial papers are used as a replacement for toilet paper, our sewage systems could readily become blocked with the resulting chaos and increased health risks associated with this. Ultimately, water companies may not have the infrastructure and equipment to unblock the sewer system.”