What is a fatberg?

 

Brace yourself! A fatberg is a sewer blockage made up of cooking oil, tampons, condoms, wipes and other items that should never be flushed in the first place. All these items are small enough to make it past the u-bend but they congeal together to form rock-hard blockages further down the line that can require a drill to shift. They can grow to gargantuan proportions, causing costly and very unpleasant damage.

Prepare yourself… images and video follows.

When a sewer is completely blocked by a fatberg, it backs up and overflows. This sends sewage and detritus like tampons flowing into rivers and natural waterways, ending up on the beach. The Marine Conservation Society found 20 tampons, pads or wipes per 100m stretch of beach during their annual beach clean up in 2016.

Read our letter in The Guardian newspaper about this!

The overflow can sometimes be closer to home: on the high street, in your garden or even in your bathroom. The UK’s water companies spend an annual £88m per year clearing fatbergs and repairing the damage they cause. Not only do the resulting roadworks cause inconvenience but the price is inevitably passed on to householders in their water bills.

Here’s a mere armful of fatberg, fresh from the sewer:

fatberg

#FatbergWatch

This problem is found globally, with fatbergs and sewage pollution being reported right round the world. So we’re launching #FatbergWatch, to keep an eye on these monstrosities growing quietly underground and help rally support for their prevention.

At FabLittleBag, we’re supporting water companies in their campaign to ensure that only the 3 P’s are flushed: pee, poo and paper. The disposal of other “unflushables” is made much more pleasant with a FabLittleBag, encouraging better binning.

Here is our #FatbergWatch report on recent fatbergs, which we keep updated.

  • USA – Oregon – Nov 2017 – Portland reports 30 problem areas in the city, with impacted waste being cleared every 3 months
  • New Zealand – Dannevirke – Nov 2017 – A fatberg found in the sewers of this country town has caused a sinkhole to open up and has led to an infestation of rats
  • UK – Liverpool – Nov 2017 – United Utilities clears a 10 foot blockage from fatberg hotspot area
  • Singapore – Oct 2017 – National water agency PUB attends 36 cases of “sewer choke” a month
  • UK – London – Sep 2017 – The second fatberg this month in the London epidemic has been found in Chinatown, weighing as much as three elephants.
  • USA – Maryland – Sep 2017 – Baltimore’s latest fatberg discharged around 1.2 million gallons of sewage into the Jones Falls
  • UK – London – Sep 2017 – “Monster” fatberg found in Whitechapel, 250-metre long, weighing 130 tonnes. A section will be displayed in the Musuem of London for posterity, the rest will be used to create bio-diesel.
  • UK – Belfast – Jun 2017 – “We discovered another fatberg on the Shankill Road which was so big, it rose to the top of the sewer and had been imprinted with the manhole!” – N.I. Water spokesperson
  • UK – Cheltenham – May 2017 – Fatberg stretching the full length of the high street
  • UK – extended coastline – Dec 2017 – Fatberg washed up on British beaches, all the way from the Caribbean
  • UK – Durham – Jun 2016 – 3o yard blockage causing a drain to collapse
  • UK – South Hykeham, Lincs, – Jun 2016 – a van size fatberg was removed from the sewer
  • UK – Kingston – 2013 – Bus-sized fatberg breaks all previous records

If you hear of a fatberg near you, please let us know as part of #FatbergWatch! If you’d like to try FabLittleBag for the fatberg-free disposal of tampons and pads, have a look here.

 

 

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