Disgusting 150-Ton ‘Fatberg’ Found in London Sewer

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You might have been told at one point in your life to never pour grease or oil down the drain. This is more than just an idle warning. The grease you pour down your drain can clog sewer pipes and trigger backups of sewage. Solidified grease and fat can even mix with discarded wet wipes to form giant “fatbergs” that weigh hundreds of tons.

They look like this:

In London, aging sewer infrastructure and inadequate regulation combine to create some of the world’s worst fatbergs. Previously, the record holder was a 15-ton fatberg discovered in 2013, but a new one discovered in Whitechapel puts it to shame. The new ‘berg is 10 times heavier, weighing around 150 tons. Contained within a sewer pipe only a few feet wide, the fatberg stretches more than two football fields in length.

Fatbergs like this one are extremely difficult to remove. They harden until they’re the consistency of cement, and they require a lot of work and tools to remove them. Thames Water, which manages the sewers, currently has an 8-person crew working seven days a week to remove the fatberg. It will take them an estimated three weeks to clear.

“This fatberg is up there with the biggest we’ve ever seen,” said Thames Water’s head of waste networks, Matt Rimmer. “It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove as it’s set hard. It’s basically like trying to break up concrete.”

The workers have to blast the fatberg with high-pressure water, and cart the debris away in trucks to a recycling center. They can remove around 25 tons of fatberg per day, but that still might not be fast enough. The workers are racing to try and clear the sewer before raw sewage starts backing up onto the street.

For those of you pouring oil and grease down the drain, and flushing wet wipes and similar products, Rimmer has a message for you: “When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play…. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish and our message to everyone is clear-please ‘Bin it-don’t block it’.”

Source: Thames Water