Monster fatberg dwelling in Sidmouth sewer will cost £130k to remove
PUBLISHED: 13:30 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:20 10 January 2019
A monster pile of hardened fat, oils and wet-wipes, the size of six double decker buses, has been discovered in a Sidmouth sewer.
It is going to cost £130,000 to move the giant 64-metre fatberg, which has attracted global attention.
It is believed to be the biggest discovered in South West Water’s history and is the largest in Devon or Cornwall.
A 10-man team, armed with pickaxes will be dispatched, by South West Water (SWW), to tackle the beast on Monday, February 4.
It’s believed the works, under the The Esplanade, near The Ham, could take up to eight weeks if it doesn’t get delayed by rain.
The clean-up team will be using breathing apparatus along with shovels and pickaxes to hack away at the discarded waste.
They will also be using special sewage jetting equipment which blasts high powered water at the fatberg so that pieces can be sucked up by a machine.
The cleared fat will then be transported to a water treatment site where it will be converted into green energy.
SWW believe the fatberg has been growing in the sewer for the last two to three years.
A routine check last occurred several years ago in line with industry standards as Sidmouth is a ‘low risk area’.
The lack of an odour or customer complaints meant SWW had no reason to specifically check this stretch of sewer and that the fatberg was instead found on a routine check in December.
It is believed that it is the largest fatberg to be found so close to the sea.
A SWW spokeswoman said fatbergs of this size were expected in cities but in small towns like Sidmouth, it was almost unheard of.
Andrew Roantree, SWW’s director of Wastewater, said: “It shows how this key environmental issue is not just facing the UK’s cities, but right here in our coastal towns.
“It is the largest discovered in our service history and will take our sewer team around eight weeks to dissect this monster in exceptionally challenging work conditions. Thankfully it has been identified in good time with no risk to bathing waters.
“If you keep just one new year’s resolution this year, let it be to not pour fats, oil or grease down the drain, or flush wet-wipes down the loo. The consequences can be significant - including sewer flooding in your own home.
“Put your pipes on a diet and don’t feed the fatberg.”
Nearby businesses have been assured that they will not be affected by the removal of the fatberg and that The Esplanade, near The Ham, will remain fully accessible with no impact to traffic.
A pop-up campaign shop will open at 48 High Street and full details will be available shortly.
The shop will aim to bring the sewer to life with interactive tasks and further information around South West Water’s ThinkSink and multi-award-winning Love Your Loo campaigns - which educates customers on the importance of only flushing the 3Ps.
Dedicated Love Your Loo advisors have spoken to more than 26,000 customers across Devon and Cornwall.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) was made aware of the condition of the main sewer in early December but says it was reassured there was no ‘immediate issues’.
An EDDC spokesman said: “Officers from EDDC will be working closely with SWW to inform and educate local businesses of their responsibilities and the consequences of not properly managing their fat wastes.
“Officers from the Environmental Health team regularly reinforce these messages during routine inspections.
“During the maintenance works, our officers will be on standby to assist SWW at their request. There is no suggestion that there are any physical defects in the foul sewer which might put either the beach or sea water at risk, and officers will remain vigilant during the works to ensure that this remains the case.”
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