Enormous fatberg discovered in East Devon sewer
PUBLISHED: 00:01 08 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:19 10 January 2019
A 64-metre pile of hardened fat, oils and wet-wipes has been discovered in a Sidmouth sewer.
South West Water was carrying out routine checks when it found the fatberg, under The Esplanade, which is longer than six double decker buses.
It is believed to be the biggest discovered in South West Water’s history and the largest one in Devon or Cornwall.
It estimated that it will take around eight weeks to remove. But the sheer volume of fat in the confined space and heavy rain could cause delays.
Works are due to begin on Monday, February 4. Nearby businesses have been assured that they will not be affected by the removal and that The Esplanade, near The Ham, will remain fully accessible with no impact to traffic.
It is believed that it is the largest fatberg to be found so close to the sea.
A fatberg is formed like a snowball – as wet-wipes get flushed down toilets, fat oils and grease congeal together, gradually forming a hard mass.
A South West Water spokesman said fatbergs of this size are expected in cites but not in towns like Sidmouth, where it is almost unheard of.
South West Water’s director of Wastewater, Andrew Roantree, 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.”
Sewer workers will require full breathing apparatus to carry out the removal, which will involve a combination of manual labour and special sewer-jetting equipment.
A pop-up campaign shop will be launching in Sidmouth shortly with full details available later this week.
The shop will aim to bring the sewer to life with interactive tasks and further information around South West Water’s ThinkSink and Love Your Loo campaigns.
South West Water tackles a new sewer blockage at a rate of one an hour, adding £4.5million to bills every year.
Common items flushed or poured down sinks include fat oil and grease (FOG), wet-wipes, sanitary products and cotton buds and pads.
South West Water’s multi award-winning Love Your Loo campaign 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.