1 September 2014
A ‘fatberg’ – a congealed mass of fat, wet wipes and other litter wrongly put down drains and toilets – formed under a 80 metre stretch of Shepherd’s Bush Road. A team of sewer experts from the company fought the ‘berg all last week (Tues Aug 26 – Friday August 29). The immense, solid blockage needed to be broken up and removed from the sewer to prevent sewer flooding to nearby homes and business.
While residents of Shepherd’s Bush will have to go a long way to go to beat the town of 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 a week of hard graft in the area. Using high powered water jets, the team broke up the congealed mass so that wastewater could start to pass through the sewer again.
Dave Dennis, Thames Water sewer operations manager, said:
“We have 108,000km of sewers, and that’s a lot of pipe to keep clear. We spend £12 million 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’ve found all sorts in this sewer – from tennis balls to planks of wood . It goes without saying they shouldn’t be in those pipes. London – bin it, don’t block it.”
But this isn’t London’s worst offender. Top of the fatberg league is Harrow, with a staggering 13,417 blockages reported in the last five years. Shepherd’s Bush trails behind with just 68.