'Bus-Sized' Lump Of Fat Called A 'Fatberg' Discovered In London Sewer

Illustration for article titled 'Bus-Sized' Lump Of Fat Called A 'Fatberg' Discovered In London Sewer

Warning: This is one of those stories that will be disgusting, but also kinda fascinating. Tune in at your own risk. Municipal officials in London say they have removed the largest lump of fat ever recorded in Britain from a sewer under the city. It is the size of a bus. A bus!


The local utility, Thames Water, says the 15-ton "fatberg" (their word, not mine, dear God this is so awful) was actually blocking sewage flow from houses in southwest London. The mass was made of fat and wet wipes. Workers discovered it after residents complained they were unable to flush their toilets.

The fatberg was so big that it actually damaged the sewer lines, which will take weeks to replace and repair. Meanwhile, Thames Water warned residents that certain things are simply not to be flushed, like fat and sanitary nakpins.

The current status of the fatberg is unknown, but presumably, it was set on fire. That's what I would do with it, but there's probably a reason I'm not in charge of the London sewer system.

Photo credit Thames Water



This is actually fairly common.

I'm a civil engineer and I'm posting here between reviews of sewer inspection videos. So this is just good timing on this story.

We don't call them 'fatburgers' here in the US (which, we TOTALLY should). But they are basically caused by people dumping cooking grease and fat down the drain. This isn't supposed to be where grease goes. It clumps up like this and causes clogs in the sewer lines.

But 15-tons is a big ass hunk of grease in the sewer.
Normally the smaller sewer lines (8", 12", etc) get clogged with grease—usually around places like restaurants that dump grease into the sewers. This was roughly a 27" pipe, so that's a pretty big-sized collector.

London needs to clean their sewers more often, and the sewer users need to not dump grease down the drains. These two things happen and this problem goes away.