Sewage flooding homes because of faulty pipes in Vickery Wharf Limehouse block of flats

PUBLISHED: 16:48 08 July 2015 | UPDATED: 18:02 08 July 2015

Michelle Madigan (inset) and raw sewage flooding in her home at Limehouse [photo: Elinor Hoskins]

Michelle Madigan (inset) and raw sewage flooding in her home at Limehouse [photo: Elinor Hoskins]


Desperate families have been battling against raw sewage flooding in a block of flats in London’s East End caused by a bad drainage system which forces sludge back into their homes.

Buckets of overflowing toilet sludge in Michelle's bathroomBuckets of overflowing toilet sludge in Michelle's bathroom

Mother-of-two Michelle Madigan, who is under chemo therapy treatment, has had to be put up in temporary bed-and-breakfast after gallons of sludge seeped into her first-floor flat at Vickery’s Wharf in Stainsby Road, next to the Limehouse Cut canal.

It bubbles into her home every time neighbours use their own toilet or take a shower—because of faulty communal plumbing in the building, her social landlords admit.

“I have sewage everywhere—in my bedroom, front-room, bathroom,” 47-year-old Michelle told the East London Advertiser. “I’m having to scoop it up in buckets.

“I go through hell every time someone in the block flushes their loo—it bubbles up through my toilet, sink and bath and overflows into the rest of the flat.”

Vickery's Wharf in Stainsby Rd [Google image]Vickery's Wharf in Stainsby Rd [Google image]

She added: “I’m desperate to get out of this hell.”

Families were so desperate they dialled 999 yesterday and called out the Fire Service, despite Thames Water already battling to clear the blockage.

East Thames social landlords, which manages block in Limehouse, sent in its repairs contactors, Interserve, who have been working round-the-clock with a drainage specialist to resolve the problem.

An East Thames housing spokesman admitted: “This happened because of a fault in the communal building plumbing system.

“We and Interserve are communicating with the management company responsible for the pipework to make sure the fault is fixed as soon as possible.”

The fault has been causing raw sewage flooding for several months, according to the angry tenants who say they are lodging a formal complaint with the housing Ombudman.

Thames Water says the flooding was caused by an 11ins pipe blocked up with fat, oil, grease and wetwipes. Their engineers were at the scene between 1am and 4am on Monday and returned the next day for emergency sewer flushing.

Their spokesman said: “We’ve been clearing as much as we could to get the sewer running clearly again, and are arranging for emergency high pressure water jets to thoroughly de-scale inside the pipe.

“The sewer is pretty big at 11ins diameter, but the amount of fat in there had solidified to form a blockage. Things like wetwipes get flushed away and stick to the fat, causing blockages and preventing the wastewater getting through, so it backs up into homes through toilets, sinks and showers.

“Sadly, we’re seeing more and more fat and wetwipes which should never be flushed, even if the packaging says ‘flushable’.”

East Thames are paying for Michelle Madigan’s hotel accommodation until next Wednesday while thoroughly cleansing her home to “restore it to its original condition”.

But Michelle is insisting she doesn’t want to return to Vickery’s Wharf and is demanding to be rehoused.

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