London sewer’s 40-ton fatberg cleared after 3 weeks, debris removed by hand, officials say

British engineers have finally cleared a massive 40-ton block of waste known as a “fatberg” from a South London sewer after spending three weeks chiseling down the clog, officials said.

Engineers with Thames Water, a private utility company serving the London area, used high-powered water jets that blast the congealed blockage loose, the company said in a news release Wednesday. Workers then removed the debris, a combination of fat, grease and other materials, by hand.

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“This was a massive and disgusting blockage that took a great deal of effort and teamwork to clear and get the sewer working well again,” said Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks.

The mammoth clog, discovered earlier this year, weighed the same as three of London’s famed red double-decker buses and took up as much as 80 percent of the sewer’s capacity, the news release said. If the huge blob wasn’t handled, it could have grown even bigger, causing sewage to back up into homes and businesses. It could have also harmed the environment.

The blob of congealed waste weighed 40 tons, about the same as three of London's famed red buses, Thames Water said.

The blob of congealed waste weighed 40 tons, about the same as three of London's famed red buses, Thames Water said. (Thames Water)

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Fatbergs are formed when grease, fat and oil are disposed of down sinks or other drains and fuse with “unflushable” items like wet wipes, diapers and cotton swabs, according to Thames Water.

“We’d urge everyone to help fight the fatberg by only flushing the 3Ps -- pee, poo and paper -- as well as disposing of fat and oils in the bin, not the sink,” Rimmer said.

Several enormous fatbergs have popped up in England over the past several years.

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Earlier this year, a 210-foot fatberg was removed from a popular southwestern English resort town. In 2017, an 820-foot fatberg was found in sewers beneath Whitechapel in east London.