Sewers are scary. They’re dark, they drip, and what we know of their contents, we know to be disgusting. But it’s what we don’t know that really scares us – anything could be lurking down there in the dark. That is, one presumes, why so many urban myths are attached to them. In the collective consciousness, the underground veins carrying waste beneath our cities are the perfect Freudian repository for our greatest fears.
It probably doesn’t help that bizarre things actually do turn up in sewers all the time, making it harder to stamp on the idea that sewers are nightmarish places, populated by monsters: Alligators and snapping turtles; fatbergs and fatberg-loving tourists. Here are five other things recently found in sewers.
- Annelid worms, most recently found in a North Carolina sewer, are long worms which combine with each other to form giant, convulsive pimples of slime on sewer walls. They also reform when you try to pull them apart, like a revolting modern hydra. Here’s a picture:
- A Melton Mowbray sewer was recently blocked with hundreds and hundreds of tennis balls, which is weird, but at least not retch-inducingly gross. According to a report by the BBC, “Experts are still puzzled how or why anyone managed to flush so many balls.” Indeed.
- In 2009, a Japanese sewage treatment works reported that it had found nearly nearly 5 million yen (just shy of £40,000) worth of gold in the sludge produced by Nagano prefacture. A report in the Telegraph credited the find to the “high concentration of precision equipment manufacturers using the precious metal in the Nagano region”.
In all, the newspaper reported, the works was yielding around 1.9kg of gold for every tonne of ash. Which may not sound like much, until you learn that the Hishikari Gold Mine was producing only 40g of the metal per tonne of ore.