What lies beneath

As you’re going about your everyday business like going to work and school, you’d never think that there are people working beneath your feet to keep 72,000 kilometres of pipes and sewers running smoothly.

Image of Mike and Shaun

Our sewer workers are busy underground cleaning pipes and removing tonnes of fat and rubbish which are clogging up our sewers.

The murky world of the North West’s sewer system was under the spotlight of reality TV in ITV1’s documentary Dirty Britain.

Two sewer workers; Mick Barton and Shaun Dullaghan, get down and dirty under Manchester’s, Oxford Street, showing what it takes to clean up the fat and grease from the city's takeaways.

The fat sets hard and, along with other unmentionables that householders flush and forget, like baby wipes and cotton buds, causing sewers to block and sewage to flood out.

Although the programme had scenes which some people might find a bit stomach-churning, it shows what can happen when rubbish that should go in a bin gets flushed away down the drains. It nearly always causes blockages, and there are people like Mick and Shaun who have to go down and clear it away before it blocks the sewer and causes flooding.
Image of sewers

The job is not only a dirty one, the workers cleaning the sewers also face dangers of, drowning, suffocation, falling from heights and bacterial infection.

They have to have special training to deal with the dangers which lie beneath – including what to do if their gas alarm goes off due to high levels of sulphide gas - that's the rotten egg smell - which means everyone has to get out quick.

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