Utility workers pull 750-kg ‘fatberg’ from Australian sewer
When it comes to grisly discoveries in the sewer, even finding the alligators of urban myth could be preferable to finding a fatberg.
The 750-kilogram blockage, composed mainly of used wet wipes, was pulled from the sewer system in Eleebana, Australia on Wednesday. It took a crane to remove it.
“The rest of the fatberg, 300 kilograms, was removed by hand, one bucket at a time,” Hunter Water Corporation spokesman Nick Kaiser told The Sydney Morning Herald.
The blockages are known as fatbergs because they are composed of wet wipes that have been flushed down the toilet, mixed with sewage, fat, and oil.
The term was coined in London, England when sewer maintenance crews discovered fat flushed down drains was congealing along pipe walls.
Eventually the walls thicken and the flow is reduced, then the clogged sewers overflow during heavy rains.
The Hunter Water corporation tweeted out a photo of the massive obstruction, along with the hashtag #KeepWipesOutOfPipes
The sewage utility hopes to warn the public about the dangers of flushing wet wipes down the toilet, even those branded as “flushable,” because they do not easily break up like toilet paper does.
“Wet wipes are responsible for around 80 per cent of all sewer blockages in Hunter Water’s system,” Kaiser said.
“These can cost thousands of dollars to repair and if they occur in people’s private plumbing that cost is worn by the customer.”
Australia is far from the only place that experiences fatbergs in their sewer system.
In November 2014 a downtown Halifax maintenance hole cover was lifted skyward by a dense lump of floating fat, oil and grease.
And a 2013 discovery of a fatberg in the London sewer system puts this most recent discovery to shame, tipping the scales at a whopping 15 metric tonnes.
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