A solidified mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil weighing an estimated 130 tonnes is blocking a 250-metre length of Whitechapel sewers in east London, threatening an obnoxious eruption.
Thames Water’s head of waste networks Matt Rimmer said: “This fatberg is up there with the biggest we’ve ever seen. It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove as it’s set hard.
“It’s basically like trying to break up concrete. It’s frustrating as these situations are totally avoidable and caused by fat, oil and grease being washed down sinks and wipes flushed down the loo.”
Work on Whitechapel Road to remove the immense fatberg started this week and involves a crew of eight using high-powered jet hoses to break up the mass before sucking it out with tankers, which take it away for disposal at a recycling site in Stratford.
They are removing an average of 20 to 30 tonnes per shift with work starting at 8am and continuing until 5pm seven days a week.
CCTV camera inspections showed the 1200mm high by 700mm wide Victorian sewer to be totally blocked by the fatberg which is 3.5 metres deep below ground for 250 metres. Work will continue throughout September until the sewer is clear.