10-tonne fatberg removed from west London sewer

10-tonne bulge of moist wipes and fat has been eliminated from a sewer in Chelsea, west London.The lump of congealed fat and family waste — known as a fatberg — has been 40 metres long and so hefty that it broke the 1940s-era sewer. The damaged sewer is expected to cost Thames Water $400,000 and take two or more months to repair, the business said. A maintenance and repair manager at Thames Water, Stephen Hunt, who is currently overseeing the removal of the fatberg, said its dimensions was staggering. “We see blockages all of the time on household sewer pipes, which can be about big enough for a cricket ball to pass through, but to have this much damage on a sewer nearly a metre in diameter is mind-boggling. The original sewer was so badly abused by fat being thrown down the plughole we have had to choose the time-consuming and tumultuous option of replacing several yards of pipe.”

Fatbergs are formed when fat clumps together with other household waste and they are becoming an increasing problem for London’s sewers. The capital, which has the highest concentration of food businesses in the country, produces an estimated 32m–44m litres of used cooking oil every year, much of which is poured down drains. The use of wet wipes as toilet paper is growing, exacerbating the circumstance. In 2013, a fatberg weighing 15 tonnes was discovered in Kingston, and a year ago employees spent four days clearing an 80-metre-long fatberg from under Shepherds Bush Road.Thames Water began battling the Chelsea fatberg — that was lurking two metres beneath Walton Street and Draycott Avenue — in March. The company has replaced 22 metres of broken sewer with fresh piping. The team is having to dig down by hand due to the amount of pipes from the ground.

“I would urge folks to consider what lurks beneath their toes,” said Hunt. “When it comes to getting rid of fat, ‘bin it — do not block it’.” One in five individuals admit to flushing wipes down the loo, according to research from Thames Valley. The organization warns that doing this generates “a nasty solid mess” and dangers sewage flooding homes. The water business dealt with 18,000 homes at the past five years, with 200,000 blockages. Around its area, it states Hounslow Ealing and Harrow are blockage hotspots.

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