LONDON, UK – Engineers from utility Thames Water have declared war against a giant fatberg made up of oils, grease and wet wipes which is blocking a stretch of Victorian sewer near Whitechapel.
Measuring 250 metres long and weighing 130 tonnes, this latest fatberg is said to be around 10 times bigger than the famous Kingston monster found in 2013.
An eight-strong crew is using high-powered jet hoses to break up the mass before sucking it out with tankers. On average 20 to 30 tonnes of the fatberg is being removed per day.
Thames Water’s head of waste networks, Matt Rimmer, said: “This fatberg is up there with the biggest we’ve ever seen. 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. It’s frustrating as these situations are totally avoidable and caused by fat, oil and grease being washed down sinks and wipes flushed down the loo.”
Rimmer added: “We check our sewers routinely but these things can build up really quickly and cause big problems with flooding, as the waste gets blocked. It’s fortunate in this case that we’ve only had to close off a few parking bays to get to the sewer. Often we have to shut roads entirely, which can cause widespread disruption – especially in London.”
Thames Water said it spends £1 million a month clearing blockages from its sewers in London and the Thames Valley, all caused by items like fat, wipes, nappies, cotton buds, sanitary products and condoms.
The company’s ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ campaign, which mainly targets households, is supported by two new videos set to be released on Monday demonstrating how fat and wipes can be responsibly disposed of in the bin.