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What are fatbergs and how can we prevent them?

11 January 2019

Over the last few months, a phenomenon known as “fatbergs” has been making the news, both nationally and locally in the UK.

A fatberg is a congealed lump in a sewer system largely made up of fats, oils and grease (FOGs) along with human waste such as wet wipes. This kind of waste can block your pipes, but fatbergs tend to be much bigger in scale to ordinary household waste.

One of the reasons fatbergs are making the news right now is their size. Recently, a 64m fatberg was found in Devon, but this paled in comparison to the one found in sewers in 2017 under Whitechapel, London, which measured in at a staggering 250 metres long. Two pieces of the fatberg were cut off and displayed at the Museum of London as part of the City Now City Future exhibit to raise awareness about the structures.

In April of last year however, a fatberg suspected to be even bigger than the Whitechapel fatberg was found under South Bank in London.

What can we do to prevent fatbergs?

Fatbergs form on the rougher surfaces of sewers where fluid flow becomes turbulent. They’re a menace that can eased by correct oil and waste disposal by the public and businesses alike.

New “Fine to Flush” labels are coming into effect for wet wipes. Wipes will now have to pass tests to ensure that they don’t have plastics that will clog up sewers in the fight against fatbergs.

A study in 2017 found that non-flushable wet wipes could account for 93% of the material causing blockages. The best advice for the general public is simply to be conscious of what they flush; fatbergs are a very real – and very big – problem of modern life.

Image from Sky News


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