15-Ton 'Fatberg' Amassing in London Sewer Clogs City's Pipes

Image: 15-Ton 'Fatberg' Amassing in London Sewer Clogs City's Pipes

Tuesday, 06 Aug 2013 01:31 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A 15-ton "fatberg" has been removed from a London sewer after it was discovered last week following complaints from residents that their toilets weren't flushing properly.

The massive ball of fat, which resembled an off-white paper mache boulder, was formed when food fats were dumped down sink drains or flushed down the toilet and combine with wet wipes giving way to a lump of waste that would only increase with time if not removed.

The "fatberg" found beneath London was the size of a bus and reduced the sewer to just five percent of its normal capacity, the International Business Times reported.

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If not removed, the fat ball could have caused sewage to backup and flood the streets and area homes above it.

"While we've removed greater volumes of fat from under central London in the past, we've never seen a single, congealed lump of lard this big clogging our sewers before," Gordon Hailwood, waste contracts supervisor for Thames Water, told the International Business Times.

"Given we've got the biggest sewers and this is the biggest fatberg we've encountered, we reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history," Hailwood said. "The sewer was almost completely clogged with over 15 tons of fat. If we hadn't discovered it in time, raw sewage could have started spurting out of manholes across the whole of Kingston."

More than 21 yards of pipeline required repairs as a result of the London "fatberg," according to Thames Water.

"It was so big it damaged the sewer and repairs will take up to six weeks," Hailwood added. "Homes and businesses need to change their ways, when it comes to fat and wipes, please remember: 'Bin it - don't block it'."

Despite the damage it caused to London's sewer and the potential damage it could have caused to property above ground if it had not been removed, "fatbergs" do have a positive purpose in that they can be used as fuel in power plants.

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"This is good for us, the environment, Thames Water and its customers," Andrew Mercer, chief executive of green utility company 2OC, told the International Business Times.
"Our renewable power and heat from waste oils and fats is fully sustainable," Mercer added. "When Thames doesn't need our output, it will be made available to the grid meaning that power will be sourced, generated and used in London by Londoners."

Earlier in the year, Thames Water announced its intention to send its fatbergs to the world's biggest fat-fuelled power station in Beckton, east London, the International Business Times noted.

Related stories:

Raw Sewage: Oakland Coliseum Overflow Forces Teams to Share Locker Room

Sewage Pipe Baby Returned to Grandparents; Mom Not Charged

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