Workers remove huge fatberg from under Devon town

A giant fatberg lurking under a Devon seaside town has been successfully removed.

The 64-metre monster, made of congealed fat, oil and wet wipes, was discovered by South West Water under The Esplanade in Sidmouth just before Christmas.

Work to remove the fatberg, the biggest discovered in Devon or Cornwall and thought to be one of the largest found so close to the sea, started in February.

For nearly eight weeks, workers have braved exceptionally challenging conditions to break up the beast.

They had to be winched into the sewer via a manhole, and for the first few days needed to wear full breathing apparatus because of dangerous gases in the pipe.

Sidmouth fatberg
Workers have finished the job of removing the giant fatberg (South West Water/PA)

At times, water levels in the sewer made it too treacherous to enter and specialist jetting equipment and manual labour were used to break up the fatberg before it was loaded on to tankers.

In total, 36 tanker loads – each 3,000 gallons – of debris have been excavated and removed by a dedicated team of seven confined-space specialists.

The fatberg was taken to a local sewage treatment works where it was fed into the anaerobic digester and produced energy to power the plant.

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London's sewer system and its history of 'fatbergs'
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London's sewer system and its history of 'fatbergs'
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson, a 'flusher' shovels the fat as he works in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Thames Water sewer supervisor Vince Minney, rolls onto his back to get help taking his waders off after working in the Regent sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Thames Water sewer supervisor Vince Minney, emerges from a manhole in Whitehall after working in the Regent sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Wet footprints are seen on the pavement alongside Vince Minneys' waders after finishing work in the Regent sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Thames Water sewer supervisor Vince Minney, emerges from a manhole in Whitehall after working in the Regent sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Tim Henderson, a 'flusher' or trunk sewer technician holds a 'fatberg' as he works in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Thames Water sewer supervisor Vince Minney, works in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson (L), a 'flusher' works alongside sewer supervisor Vince Minney (R) in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson (L), a 'flusher' works alongside sewer supervisor Vince Minney (R) in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson, a 'flusher' shovels the fat as he works in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson, a 'flusher' shovels the fat as he works in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson, a 'flusher' shovels the fat as he works in the intersection of the Regent Street and Victoria sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Debris including condoms, lights bulbs and a hypodermic needle are collected on a shovel all within the space of a metre inside the Regent Sewer in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson (R), a 'flusher' stands for a photograph after working in the Regent Street and Victoria sewers in central London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson, a 'flusher' stands on the road in Whitehall beside a manhole, the entrance to the Regent Street and Victoria sewers in London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY ROBIN MILLARD Sewer technician Tim Henderson (R), a 'flusher' stands for a photograph as a colleague marches past after working in the Regent Street and Victoria sewers in central London on December 11, 2014. Every day beneath the streets of London, sewer cleaners are fighting a grim war against giant 'fatbergs' clogging the system. Congealed fat is blocking up the Victorian sewers and the problem is to get worse at Christmas. An extra two Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat will be tipped down the drains during the festive season. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers �1 million ($1.6 million, 1.3 million euros) each month to tackle. The company urges people people to dispose of their cooking oil and fat properly. 'Bin it, don't block it' is their message. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Andrew Roantree, South West Water's director of wastewater, said: "The Sidmouth fatberg is the largest discovered in our service history, and illustrates how this key environmental issue is not just facing the UK's biggest cities but our coastal towns as well.

"The fatberg has made headlines all over the world, and we really hope that this will help everyone to remember to only flush the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo – down the loo and to dispose of fat, oil and grease in the bin not down the sink."

He added: "Although not on the same scale as the Sidmouth fatberg, we deal with around 8,500 blocked sewers every year, which costs about £4.5 million to clear and adds to bills.

"Most of these blockages are caused by people inappropriately flushing baby wipes, hygiene wipes, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products which do not break down in the same way as toilet paper and get glued together by fat, oil and grease poured down drains.

"Thankfully the Sidmouth fatberg has now gone but we'll need the help of the people of Sidmouth to make sure it never returns."

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