Utility removes massive fatberg from Plymouth sewer

Plymouth sewer fatberg

A massive build-up of hardened fat, oil and wet wipes the same length as the height of the Arc de Triomphe has been removed from a sewer in Plymouth, according to South West Water.

The 50-metre fatberg, which was over a metre wide and a metre deep, was discovered in a sewer that feeds Edinburgh Street pumping station in Devonport at the end of last year.

The removal and clean-up of the fatberg was carried out by specialist contractors Clear-flow and took a team of four people 34 days to complete. This involved removing over 88 tonnes of debris.

South West Water’s Director of Wastewater Operations, Mark Hillson, said: “This is a serious reminder of the problems caused by products such as baby wipes, hygiene wipes, moist toilet tissues, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products, which don’t break down in the same way that toilet paper does.

“Cooking oil, fat and grease disposed of down the sink can also build up and block pipes, particularly when mixed with these other materials.

“We would like to remind all our customers to only flush the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo – down the loo, and to not dispose of cooking fats, oils and greases down the sink.

“It took over a month to remove this monster in exceptionally challenging work conditions at a cost of nearly £100,000.”

Due to the volumes of wastewater even in dry weather conditions there was a need to use temporary overland pipes to divert flows from the sewer into the pump station so the blockage could be removed.

The debris at times was so compacted the team had to break it up with picks, crow bars and hammers, while the large lumps had to be removed in buckets by crane and taken to landfill.