VICTORIAN ERA SEWER TUNNEL CLOGGED BY MASSIVE, DISGUSTING MASS, THREATENS FLOOD OF POO
You learn something new every day. Sometimes that something is so random and disgusting that you almost don’t want to know. Almost. Today we learn there’s a problem in London’s Victorian Age sewers that may take weeks for working crews to clear. If it’s not done fast enough, it could cause raw sewage to spew onto London’s streets. It’s what they call a “fatberg,” a giant, clogged mass comprised of diapers, condoms, wet wipes and fat. See, aren’t you glad you learned this today?
FATBERG WEIGHS OVER 300,000 POUNDS OF DISGUSTINGNESS, TO BE CLEANED OUT BY HAND
Fatbergs are the kind of thing that are the normal travails of maintaining an aging metropolitan sewer system. This particular fatberg formed in a period tunnel in London’s Whitechapel District and is more than ten times larger than the last one found in Kingston in 2013, according to Thames Water, the utility group that is charged with clearing these out. And this current fatberg is one giant disgusting job to be done, with a weight of 143 tonnes (about 315,000 pounds, not the quid kind). This is all the literal crap that people shouldn’t flush down their johns.
FATBERG CLOGS A TUNNEL LONGER THAN TWO FOOTBALL FIELDS
“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,” said Rimmer in a statement. “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.”
The mass is currently blocking a stretch of Victorian sewer that’s 820 feet (250 meters) long, longer than the length of two football fields, which, wow. The sewer itself is just 47 inches high and about 28 inches wide, making it particularly vulnerable to clogging.
WORKERS IN HAZMAT SUITS BLASTING WITH JET HOSES FOR AT LEAST THREE WEEKS
Work began last week to remove the mass—an unenviable endeavour that could take upwards of three weeks to complete. Crews consisting of eight workers are using high-powered jet hoses to break up the mass before sucking it out with tankers. On a typical day, these intrepid workers—covered from head to toe in protective equipment—are able to remove about 20 to 30 tons, which is then transported to a recycling site in Stratford.
Each month, Thames Water spends about £1 million (US $1,328,000) clearing such blockages in London and Thames Valley sewers. The utility has introduced a “Bin it—Don’t Block It” campaign to discourage its customers from flushing problematic items down the toilet. This information campaign is all fine and well, but what would really be effective is having the guilty London toilet flushers perform this wretched extraction work themselves. That would learn ‘em.