Connecting Waterpeople

You are here

A fatberg the weight of three double decker buses is unblocked from east London

  • fatberg the weight of three double decker buses is unblocked from east London
  • A “fatberg” made up of unflushable items as tall as a 6 ft human and weighing 35 tonnes has been cleared from an east London sewer.
  • The clean-up operation took over 11 days and a team of 20 people.  
  • Thames Water reveals it removes an estimated 19 billion wet wipes from its sewers every 5 years costing around at least £90 million. 

About the entity

Thames Water
Every day, we serve 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley.

A fatberg, which was almost 6 ft tall and weighed the same as three double-decker buses, has successfully been removed from wet well near the iconic Abbey Mills pumping station, east London. The removal took several days to remove as it had built up 35 metres underground.  
James O’Donoghue, pumping stations operations manager at Abbey Mills, said: “It was an incredible feat to clear the fatberg, and involved people from all across Thames Water to plan and then execute its removal. 
“It was predominantly made up of silt and rag – un-flushable items such as wet wipes, tampons and condoms – and shows the everyday challenges we face in keeping our sewers flowing. 
“A huge thank you and well done to everybody involved in the removal. We face this type of issue every day as we keep sewers flowing across London and the Thames Valley, and we’ve learnt a lot from this project.  
“Now it’s been removed, we can install final drainage pumps to ensure Abbey Mills and the North London Flood relief can operate to its full potential.” 
It took 11 days and a team of 20 people to remove the fatberg. Due to the size and the complexity of reaching it, rigorous safety controls were in place to make sure staff were as safe as possible. The operation to unblock included rehearsals, upstream monitoring, special permits, and dry weather working to mitigate health and safety risks.  
The “fatberg” removal follows the Government’s UK-wide ban on the sale of wet wipes containing plastic. Wet wipes and sanitary products, along with fats, oils and greases, are the prime cause of fatbergs clogging up the country’s sewers. If fatbergs aren’t removed, they can lead to pollution, toilets backing up and overflowing, and sewer collapses.  
The company’s long-running “Bin it, don’t block it” education campaign encourages customers to only flush the three P’s down the toilet – pee, poo and toilet paper.  

Subscribe to our newsletter

Topics of interest

The data provided will be treated by iAgua Conocimiento, SL for the purpose of sending emails with updated information and occasionally on products and / or services of interest. For this we need you to check the following box to grant your consent. Remember that at any time you can exercise your rights of access, rectification and elimination of this data. You can consult all the additional and detailed information about Data Protection.

Featured news