By Ralph Echtinaw
A toy train that someone evidently flushed down a toilet was blamed for a Mother’s Day backup in St. Louis.
Public Works personnel were called into action after a homeowner in the 100 block of South Delaware reported sewage in his basement.
A DPW equipment operator met with the resident and a plumber who was also on the scene. Not long after that a homeowner from across the street came out to report sewage in his basement, too.
At this point the DPW man called his boss, DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott.
It was decided to use the DPW’s Vactor truck to jet the sewer main to determine if there was a blockage and call in a second operator (as department safety policy requires).
A blockage was discovered near the houses and cleared. A plastic toy train had been caught in the sewer main and blocked the flow, causing the two basements to flood with sewage.
Asked if the city is liable for this backup, Abbott said “No. Due to Michigan tort immunity laws that protect the city from acts like flushing toys or other foreign objects, etc. We did not cause the blockage intentionally or by neglect, so we are protected from liability.”
Abbott advises residents to flush no objects that can block sewers, especially baby wipes. “The containers may say flushable, but this is not the case as the wipes can block sewers and clog pumps and cause backup issues,” he said via email.
The only things you should flush down your toilet are human waste and toilet paper. Here is a list of things you should NOT flush:
Baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, moist wipes, diapers, facial tissues, toilet bowl scrub pads, napkins, paper towels, dental floss, egg shells, nutshells, coffee grounds, fats, oils, grease, food items containing seeds and peelings, hair, sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, pills, wash cloths, towels, rags, plastic of any kind and cigarette butts.