Members of the public have been urged to be careful what they flush after a “huge, disgusting” fatberg the weight of a small bungalow was cleared from an east London sewer.
Thames Water engineers and MTS Cleansing Services spent two weeks using high-powered water jets and hand tools to chip away at and eventually remove the rock-like heap – said to have smelled like composting festival toilets and rotten meat – from a conduit in Canary Wharf.
The fatberg had got stuck under Yabsley Street, clogging long sections of the sewer, and could have spilled sewage into people’s homes if it had grown any further, engineers said.
Fatbergs are formed when oil, grease and fat poured down drains combine with non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes, nappies and cotton buds.
The head of waste networks at Thames Water, Matt Rimmer, described the fatberg as “huge and disgusting”, and said that it took “a great deal of brute force” from the team to clear the blockage.
He added: “We’d ask everyone to help fight the fatberg by only flushing the 3Ps – pee, poo and paper – as well as disposing of fat and oils in the bin, not the sink.”
Chris Henderson, from MTS Cleansing Services, said teams had worked “tirelessly” and “achieved great results in difficult conditions”.
It is the latest in a series of fatbergs to have been removed in recent years, with another the size of an African elephant removed in October 2020. In 2019, Thames Water removed 140 tonnes-worth of fatbergs from the drains of Greenwich, Pall Mall and the Shard.
Thames Water said it spends £18m each year clearing 75,000 blockages from sewers in London and the Thames Valley. Its “Bin it – don’t block it” campaign urges customers to consider what can and cannot be flushed down their toilets.