Traverse City Record-Eagle

CNHI Special Projects

August 6, 2013

Gross! 16.5-ton glob of fat removed from sewer system

LONDON — If you've ever wondered what happens when you ignore those warnings about pouring grease down the drain, residents of one London suburb have found the disgusting answer.

It's a 16.5-ton, bus-sized glob of fat, known as a "fatberg."

Officials from sewage company Thames Water said improperly discarded food fat and wet wipes congealed to form the massive glob under the streets of a London suburb. It was removed last week.

If it hadn't been removed, it could have led to sewage-flooded homes, streets and businesses, the company said.

"While we've removed greater volumes of fat from under central London in the past, we've never seen a single, congealed lump of lard this big clogging our sewers before," said Gordon Hailwood, waste contracts supervisor for Thames Water. "Given we've got the biggest sewers and this is the biggest fatberg we've encountered, we reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history."

The fatberg was 15 tonnes, or roughly 33,000 lbs. (U.S.)

"If we hadn't discovered it in time, raw sewage could have started spurting out of manholes across the whole of Kingston," said Hailwood. "It was so big it damaged the sewer and repairs will take up to six weeks."

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