Giant blobs, called fatbergs, clog London's sewers


world
 Giant blobs, called fatbergs, clog London's sewers

    LONDON — The British capital is waging an ongoing battle in its aging 19th-century sewers against the scourge of "fatbergs" — congealed masses of cooking oil, wipes, condoms, diapers and other gunk — that pollute and clog the underground system. 

    The blobs are no stranger to sewers around the world, with such cities as Denver; Baltimore; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Melbourne, Australia, all dealing with their own varieties. In the United States, fatbergs are known as FOG (fats, oils and grease).

    London sewer workers who coined the term for the stinking mass need to use shovels and high-pressure hoses to blast it apart.

    The utility Thames Water announced Friday that it finally broke up a monster fatberg whose existence was made public in September. The 800-foot- long, 130-ton blob the size of 11 double-decker buses was blocking a 270-yard stretch of sewer under Whitechapel Road in Londons East End.

    The mass, which took nine weeks to destroy, was the largest ever seen in this capital city. The biohazardous, pollution risk was being converted into more than 2,600 gallons of biodiesel.

    Another fatberg — 6 tons and 55 yards long — under central London's Chinatown still needs to be broken up and removed from the sewer built in 1852. Thames Water is monitoring about 10 fatbergs that aren't causing any major problems  — for now. 

    A Fatberg covers an 1852-built sewer at Westminster in in London, Sept. 25, 2017. British engineers were studying ways to dispose of yet another oversize “fatberg” threatening London’s sewers.

    The Museum of London wants to acquire part of the Whitechapel fatberg to show how Londons Victorian sewage systems werent built to cope with a modern, disposable society.

    Fatbergs have existed for some time, but the problems London is seeing occurred only in the past 10 to 15 years, said Museum of London curator Alex Werner.

    A 15-ton fatberg in the south London neighborhood of Kingston-upon-Thames gained worldwide notoriety when it was removed from a sewer in 2013. It was then Britain's biggest.

    "It's an ongoing battle," said Stuart White, a spokesman for Thames Water. "Until people stop flushing wet wipes and sanitary towels and putting fat and oil into sewers, these fatbergs will continue to form." 

    The water company said 92% of more than 700 restaurants and takeouts surveyed in London had been “feeding" the Whitechapel fatberg with oil, grease and scraps of food. The utility is urging food outlets to use grease traps, which are compulsory in many U.S. cities, as well as in Toronto and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    A project is underway to figure out where sewer systems could get blocked and to install sensors where the risk is greatest, said Tom Curran, from University College Dublin who won a Fulbright scholarship to work with fatberg expert Joel Ducoste at North Carolina State University next year.

    “It seems to be a perfect storm because we have increased urbanization," Curran said. "With old pipework like brickwork and concrete, calcium leaches and makes the fatberg harder."

    Curran said water utilities in the United Kingdom are privately owned, making it difficult to implement inspection programs like those used in such cities as New York, Dublin and Stockholm.

    In Dublin, before inspections began in 2008, there were about 1,000 blockages in sewers every year. After the program, there are about 50.

    “While restaurants may be seen as the main culprits, every citizen has a responsibility in their own kitchen to make sure their food doesnt go down the sink,” Curran said.

    Museum of London curator Werner said deciding how to store and display part of the Whitechapel fatberg without harming the staff or visitors has been a challenge.

    “This item reveals a bit of the life of the city today and how we citizens abuse the sewer system," he said.

    "This is a bit of a wake-up call."

     
    By: USA TODAY

    « world

  CITIES NEWS
LONDON
DUBAI
BEDMINSTER, New Jersey
SEOUL
TAIPEI
MOSCOW
BERLIN
STOCKHOLM
WASHINGTON
LOS ANGELES
BRASILIA
SILVERSTONE, England
SAYLORSBURG, Pa
AMSTERDAM
BERGERAC, France
KABUL
BARCELONA
PARIS
MOSUL, Iraq
BRUSSELS
DOHA
CAIRO
FRANKFURT
LAUSANNE
  DATE NEWS
2017/11/19
He became a SEAL to fight terrorists. Now he's a Navy lawyer defending an accused one


2017/11/18
'More girls, fewer skinheads': Poland's far right wrestles with changing image


2017/11/17
Rising alarm in Britain over Russian meddling in Brexit vote


2017/11/16
Security firm Kaspersky said it did obtain classified NSA documents — just not deliberately


2017/11/15
Security Council to vote Thursday on Syria gas attacks probe


2017/11/14
Soldiers on Harare streets as ruling party accuses Zimbabwe army chief of treason