Fatberg the ‘size of a small bungalow’ removed from London sewer

Edd Dracott

A “huge, disgusting” fatberg has the weight of a small bungalow has been removed from a London sewer.

Members of the public have been urged to be “careful what they flush” following the two-week removal operation for the foul-smelling mass from a conduit in Canary Wharf.

Thames Water engineers and MTS Cleansing Services used high-powered water jets and hand tools to chip away at the rock-like heap – which is said to have smelled like composting festival toilets and rotten meat.

Fatbergs are formed when oil, grease and fat poured down drains combine with non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes, nappies and cotton buds.

The rock-like mass took two weeks to remove (Thames Water)
The rock-like mass took two weeks to remove (Thames Water)

Located under Yabsley Street, the Canary Wharf fatberg was clogging long sections of the sewer and Thames Water said it could have led to sewage spilling into homes and the environment if it had grown any further.

“This was a huge, disgusting fatberg that took a great deal of brute force and teamwork to clear,” said Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks.

“Our brilliant engineers were able to clear the huge blockage before it caused serious problems, negotiating tricky and cramped working conditions along the way.

“We’d ask everyone to help fight the fatberg by only flushing the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper – as well as disposing of fat and oils in the bin, not the sink.”

Thames Water took before and after pictures of the spot where the fatberg was located (Thames Water)
Thames Water took before and after pictures of the spot where the fatberg was located (Thames Water)

The fatberg is the latest in a series to have been removed in recent years, with another equated to an African elephant removed in October 2020.

In 2019, Thames Water 140 tonnes-worth of fatbergs from the drains of Greenwich, Pall Mall and the Shard.

Thames Water spends £18 million each year clearing 75,000 blockages from sewers in London and the Thames Valley.

Its “Bin it – don’t block it” campaign urges customers to consider what can and cannot be flushed down their toilets.

The fatberg is the latest in a series removed by Thames Water in recent years (Thames Water)
The fatberg is the latest in a series removed by Thames Water in recent years (Thames Water)

Chris Henderson, sales director at MTS Cleansing Services, said: “Our experienced confined space entry team, faced with a range of potential hazards, achieved great results in difficult conditions.

“MTS worked tirelessly from the planning stage to completion alongside Thames Water and we’re delighted with the result.”

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