What is a Fatberg?

(Above: Photo of a Fatberg – source: Wikipedia)

How is a fatberg formed and why do they cause so much disruption to the sewerage system?

A fatberg is a nasty piece of work. It is the accumulation of fat that has built up inside a sewer. This is caused by the flushing of vegetable and animal fats, sanitary items, and wet wipes. Whereas bog-standard toilet paper can break down, wet wipes and sanitary items cannot. If you flushed a bit of vegetable oil down the sink, it will create an iceberg style clump of fat, floating in the sewer itself. Instead of polar bears, you get rats, the odd cotton bud and the remains of one’s takeaway.

How big can a fatberg be?

Though there may be several smaller ones, roughly the size of a cat, some fatbergs have grown to amazing sizes. Not a million miles away from us, there was one on the 06 August 2013 in Kingston-upon-Thames. That one was the size of a bus. Over a year later, on the 01 September, 2014, there was one the size of a Boeing 747 seen in Shepherds Bush. This included other waste such as wooden planks and wet wipes.

Why are they so problematic?

Fatbergs block sewers which reduce their effectiveness. This puts pressure on liquid effluent which, at worst, could lead the sewers to collapse. If you’ve sat in a traffic jam, you would know how much chaos a collapsed sewer causes to your daily commute.

Speedy Jet Drainage, 16 January 2017.