28 March 2014
A ‘fatberg’ – a congealed mass of fat, wet wipes and other litter wrongly put down drains and toilets – has led to part of the sewer running underneath this busy Oxford road to collapse. Thames Water need to remove the blockage to reduce the risk of sewage backing up behind the ‘berg and flooding nearby homes and business with wastewater.
While residents of Oxford will have to go a long way to beat fellow riverside town Kingston, who had a 15-tonne fatberg removed from a sewer last year, the impact of the wrong items going down the toilet is enough to mean two-weeks of sewer work in Hollybush Row.
Work begins on Monday April 7 and is expected to take two weeks. A section of Hollybush Row outside the Royal Oxford Hotel will be closed to traffic and diversions put in place for the duration of the works.
Anthony Crawford, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said:
“We have 108,000km of sewers, and that’s a lot of pipe to keep clear. We spend £12million a year tackling blockages, most of them formed because people have tipped cooking fats down the drain and wet wipes down the loo.
“The sewers serve an important purpose - they are not an abyss for household rubbish. Fat goes down the drain easily enough, but when it hits the cold sewers, it hardens into disgusting ‘fatbergs’ that block pipes.
“Wet wipes cling to the fat. Fat clings to the wipes. And pretty soon your fatberg is out of control and sewage is backing up into roads, gardens and in the worst cases flooding up through toilets and into homes.
“We’re really sorry to anyone inconvenienced by our work, however it is vital we clear this blockage before people suffer the misery of sewer flooding.”
Notes to editors
More information on Thames Water’s Bin it, don’t block it campaign can be found here: