A congealed mass of cooking fats, oil, diapers, used condoms and other items you find in a sewer is causing a big problem in London. A problem that is longer than two football fields and weighs more than over 140 tons. And due to the size of the so-called “fatberg,” it might take at least three weeks to remove.
“This fatberg is up there with the biggest we’ve ever seen. It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove as it’s set hard,” said Matt Rimmer, head of waste networks for the utility company Thames Water, in a statement. “It’s basically like trying to break up concrete. 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 [toilet].”
Thames Water has an eight person crew working on removing the blockage in the Whitechapel neighborhood of London. The crew is blasting the mass with high-powered hoses to break it up into smaller pieces before it's removed.
“We check our sewers routinely but these things can build up really quickly and cause big problems with flooding, as the waste gets blocked. It’s fortunate in this case that we’ve only had to close off a few parking bays to get to the sewer. Often we have to shut roads entirely, which can cause widespread disruption – especially in London,” said Rimmer.
Thames Water spends over $1 million per month on clearing blockages.
For those who are curious to see what a fatberg might look like up close, the Museum of London is trying to acquire a piece of the massive blockage.
“[It] would raise questions about how we live today and also inspire our visitors to consider solutions to the problems of growing metropolises,” Museum Director Sharon Ament told the Associated Press Wednesday.