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Paris's Sewer System

Posted June 10, 2016 12:00 AM by joeymac

I’ve just returned from a trip to Europe and one of my stops was in Paris, France. We got poured on pretty good there, but I must admit that I feel lucky since we missed out on the Paris floods and were able to walk around and enjoy the sites. One of the things that I learned while on a tour that amazed me was that the city to this day cleans and unclogs its sewers out with giant balls of iron. The French call them “boules de curage.” Models of these iron and wood balls can be seen on display at the Paris Sewer Museum (Musee des Egouts de Paris).

This technology has been around since the 1850’s when Paris modernized its sewage system under engineer Eugene Belgrand. These iron balls or orbs, which measure 10 to 15 feet in diameter, slam into the refuse, knock it free, and restore flow. These orbs are using a lot of velocity and with their sheer size cut through the refuse like a hot knife through butter. They act like a drain snake for a clogged kitchen sink. They are used roughly every six months or whenever there’s a clogged sewer line. These balls vary in size to fit the assorted old tunnels which are not uniform in size.

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#1

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 5:11 AM

Good stuff.

  • Engineers were faced with the prospect of removing a fatberg in the sewage system in Kingston, just to the south west of London, recently. It was the size of a double-deck bus, reportedly.

The technique is known as "pigging" in some industries; the reason is obscure.

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#10
In reply to #1

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/11/2016 6:56 PM

In pipelines used for fuel oil etc, different fluids can sequentially follow with a plug or pig between them. Pigs are also used for instruments to check the pipeline, containing e.g. X-ray equipment, TV camera. Pigs are obviously rotund, just like a pig.

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#12
In reply to #1

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/13/2016 7:51 AM

Pig is an abbreviation for 'pipeline inspection gauge'. Also, a pig launched into the steel pipelines sounds like a pig squealing to some.

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#17
In reply to #12

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/14/2016 9:38 AM

'Pipeline Inspection Gauge' is a backronym. They had pigs long before they made anything that couls inspect the pipe from the inside.

And the original giant rubber balls/thick walled balloons did squeal like crazy as they were crammed down the line, they were designed to have a tight-tight fit, we're talking 'stuffing 10 pounds of Glory into a 5 pound bag' tight. The only way they COULD move down the pipe was from the force of the oil being pumped behind it.

For many pipelines, they don't even use the 'separator pigs' anymore. the computers monitoring the flow rate and pressure can calculate how big the 'intermix bands' are, so that product A can be extracted from the pipe at high purity, then the intermix band is extracted and sold to plants that have 'multi-grade oil burners' and can use whatever junk blend the intermix is as fuel, and then product B is extracted at high purity. It's a lot like the 'dum-dum' pops in the mixed bags; there are pops of various flavors, and then there are the 'mystery flavor' pops. Those mystery flavors are the intermix from the batch changes, the plant that makes them has a chart showing which flavors can follow which and produce a 'pleasant' flavor blend as opposed to a 'disgusting' blend. (I's been longer than I care to mention since I've had those lolipops, so I don't remember all the flavors, but a 'strawberry-banana' blend would be better than, say, a 'mint-root beer' blend).

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#2

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 7:38 AM

Any of these every get stuck?

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#3
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 7:42 AM

No they never got stuck because they made them smaller than the pipes diameter and with running water when they shot it down the hole the water acted as lubrication.

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#4
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 8:30 AM

Smaller? Yes I would agree...

i kmow heave been using this for quite some time and I was thinking more of wood or something else that would be found in the sewers that would get lodged and jam it as it passes through.

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#5
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 8:34 AM

Supposedly they're so heavy and that the velocity is moving so fast that nothing besides a collapsed pipe would stop it. I'd love to see myth busters or something similar set up an experiment and see what happens.

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#11
In reply to #5

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/13/2016 5:48 AM

I'm assuming these sewers are brick lined. Wouldn't something this heavy and, travelling at speed, cause a lot of damage to the brick work, when it inevitably impacts?

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#6

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 8:42 AM

I wonder if any other cities use this system. Except that we're talking about sewage, I'd say this is an elegant solution to a sticky problem. Good post!

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#7

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 4:42 PM

So the French have giant smelly balls they call “boules de curage.” ?

Americans have balls of destruction....

With naked chics riding them.....top that!

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#8
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/10/2016 4:45 PM

So, Americans have smelly balls too.

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#18
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/14/2016 10:00 AM

Well, hopefully, they get cleaned off after Miley does that to them. We wouldn't want that dirtying up the buildings we're knocking down.

(Seriously, though, that girl needs help; she's got to be the worst case of 'Disney Child Star Backlash' I've ever seen. They kept her in the pressure cooker of 'Must Be Disney Squeaky-Clean At ALL Times' for WAY too long. Going through almost all of puberty under those conditions? That must have been a living hell, worse torture than waterboarding.)

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#19
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/14/2016 10:41 AM

I should have said, Americans have things that make their balls smelly (Miley)

I agree, and I don't think it's no longer a phase she's going through.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/14/2016 1:43 PM

"I agree, and I don't think it's no longer a phase she's going through."

I'm having trouble juggling the meaning of that sentence. Did you mean:

  • I think it's a phase that she has gotten through.
  • I think it's a phase she hasn't gotten through yet.
  • I don't think it's a phase, and this is just how she is now.
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#21
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/14/2016 6:11 PM

For further detail.

I don think it's no longer a phase,...( It may have been at one point, but it's too late now.) This is how she is now. (Of course Until farther notice, if Miley has an epiphany that she no longer enjoys her way of life, OD's or just drops out of life all together)

she may, after her grey matter matures and realizes she needs to reinvent herself, but this just reflects on a shallow person.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/15/2016 9:42 AM

Thanks for the clarification, the double negatives were throwing me for a loop there, I just couldn't wrap my head around "don't think it's no longer."

So my third guess was the closest, we're not seeing a phase, this is her. As I said earlier, the worst case of 'Disney Child Star Backlash' I've ever seen. Hopefully the Disney TV execs will see this as a lesson: Let the child stars have a childhood, and for Pluto's sake, don't force them to be 'Disney kids' when they're supposed to be teenagers. That forced 'extended childhood' is torture, like a psychological castration, and it only leads to damaged minds and injured spirituality.

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#9
In reply to #7

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/11/2016 7:57 AM

Is that Miley going along for a ride? LOL

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#13
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/13/2016 9:23 AM

Americans have Great Balls of Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IjgZGhHrYY

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#14
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/13/2016 11:33 AM

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#15

Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/14/2016 12:01 AM

Oh merde! They're cleaning today?

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#16
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Re: Paris's Sewer System

06/14/2016 7:28 AM

LOL!!! Good one....

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