If you’re confused by the word ‘fatberg’, you’re not alone. It’s a term that is only ever used in certain industries, and unless you’ve been unfortunate enough to be directly affected by one, it’s unlikely that you’ve ever encountered one. However, they are becoming more of an issue for private and public drainage systems alike.
What are Fatbergs?
Their name isn’t exactly pleasant and neither are they. When we pour things like oils, fats and greases down our sinks and drains, they swill out of sight without a problem. However, further down the drainage system, they cool down and congeal, and it is this congealed mixture of oil, fat and grease that serves as an unwanted trap for other things we put down our drains, such as bits of food and other waste.
In 2015, drainage experts were required to remove a 10-tonne, 40-metre fatberg in a Chelsea sewer. The operation lasted for four days and cost £100,000 per day. However, somewhat unbelievably, that isn’t close to being the biggest fatberg removed from London’s sewers. Weighing 130 tonnes, and stretching across 250 metres, the biggest to date which significantly affected sewers in Whitechapel. Such is the size and stature of the blockage, part of it is going to be put on display in the Museum of London!
Since 2011, Thames Water have unblocked 200,000 drains, and over 18,000 unfortunate families have experienced sewage flooding their homes. These blockages are so big, and so strong, that wastewater is firmly backed up behind them, overflowing through the lowest gravitational point in our drains. For some people, this point is in their home or office premises, which means raw sewage floods rooms, a horrendous thing to experience, not to mention severe hygiene and health risks.
How Can Companies Prevent Fatbergs?
Everyone can do their part to help keep private and public drains as clean as possible, helping to combat the onset of fatbergs. However, two companies in particular are going a little further with their efforts; pub chain J.D Wetherspoons and sushi franchise Yo! Sushi have partnered with Severn Trent and Environmental Compliance and Services (ECAS) to help reduce their contribution towards fatbergs. To begin with, the two companies, whose HQs are in Watford and London respectively, are aiming to minimise blockages in drains and sewers in the Midlands.
Severn Trent’s initiative has been in place for four years, and has seen a reduction every year since the start of the programme. It aims to increase awareness about the correct disposal of fats and oils, as well as educating people on the benefits of looking after pipes and local sewers.
Eddie Gershon, spokesperson for JD Wetherspoon said: “Wetherspoon is a responsible pub operator and is keen to work with outside agencies to ensure that its pubs are environmentally friendly.”
“We are proud to have worked in partnership with Severn Trent to trap FOG at source and the positive engagement by Severn Trent Water in providing assistance to all businesses will benefit both our customers and the environment”.
YO! Sushi!’s spokesperson, Mike Bonaker said: “We’re pleased to have worked with Severn Trent Water on this project to reduce fatbergs.”
“As a business, YO! Sushi is always willing to work with the relevant agencies to ensure the provision of a correctly sized and efficient Grease Removal System”.
It’s a common belief that just washing oil and grease down the drain with some hot, soapy water is a perfectly safe method of disposal, and on the face of it, it is easy to see why that is the case. However, fats, grease and oils should never go down the drains – instead, they should be wiped up and deposited in a bin. When these safe disposal practices become more widely used, we’ll see a significant reduction in the size and number of fatbergs.
Express Drainage Solutions are leading providers of drain unblocking, repairs and installations for domestic and commercial customers throughout London. For more information, please get in touch with us today and we’ll be more than happy to help.