One of the biggest “fatbergs” ever seen in Britain – a ball of fat as long as three soccer pitches – has been found blocking a Victorian-era, east London sewer.
“It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove,” said Thames Water’s head of waste networks, Matt Rimmer. “It’s one of the largest we’ve ever seen.”
The rock-solid mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil is 250 yards long and weighs 130 tons, as much as 11 double-decker buses.
CCTV camera inspections showed the sewer to be totally blocked by the fatberg.
Work in Whitechapel to remove the blockage started this week and involves an eight-strong crew using jet hoses to break up the mass before sucking it out with a tanker. The grim task is expected to take three weeks.
“It’s basically like trying to break up concrete,” said Rimmer. “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.”
The fatberg would have risked raw sewage flooding on to the streets, had it not been discovered.
“The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish and our message to everyone is clear: please ‘Bin it – Don’t Block it’,” Rimmer added.
Four years ago a similar but smaller fatberg was found blocked sewers in Kingston upon Thames, London.
Reuters contributed to this article