Engineers are battling a 143-ton so-called “fatberg” of diapers, fat and oil that is clogging up a sewer in London.
Thames Water, which has started a three-week “sewer war” against the monster, says that it is “a rock-solid mass of wet wipes, nappies [diapers], fat and oil weighing the same as 11 double decker buses.”
Some 820 feet long, the fatberg is blocking a Victorian stretch of sewer more than twice the length of two soccer fields.
“This fatberg is up there with the biggest we’ve ever seen,” said Thames Water’s head of waste networks, Matt Rimmer, in a statement. “It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove as it’s set hard.”
Work on the disgusting mass, which is below the streets of London’s historic Whitechapel area, started this week. An eight-strong team of workers are using high-powered jet hoses to break up the fatberg before sucking it out of the sewer with tankers, according to Thames Water.
The team is removing an average of 22 to 33 tons per shift, working from 8 am to 5 pm seven days a week.
Inspections by CCTV showed that the sewer, which is 47 inches high and 27.6 inches wide is blocked by the fatberg. The mass is 11.5 feet below street level.
“When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play,” said Rimmer, in the company’s statement. “Yes a lot of the fat comes from food outlets but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish and our message to everyone is clear – please ‘Bin it – don’t block it’.”