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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 September 2007, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Thames cleaning vessels launched
Cleaning vessel
The boats will help tackle sewage discharges
Two vessels designed to skim rubbish and litter floating in the River Thames have been unveiled.

Thames Water said the skimmer boats will help improve the river's appearance following sewage discharges during periods of heavy rainfall.

The vessels, built in Holland to Thames Water's specification at a cost of 4m, are the first of their type in the world, the water company said.

The launch took place at Tower Bridge in central London.

Thames Water said London has a combined sewerage system, which was built by the Victorians to handle sewerage but only a limited amount of rainfall.

Due to their limited capacity, the sewers were designed to overflow into the Thames during periods of heavy rainfall.

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