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Boeing 747 Sized Fatberg Forms Under Shepherd's Bush

Monday 1st September 2014

A fatberg the length of a Boeing 747 has formed underneath a road in west London.

The fatberg. Picture: Thames Water

The fatberg. Picture: Thames Water

The congealed mass of fat, wet wipes and other litter wrongly put down drains and toilets has formed under a 80 metre stretch of Shepherd’s Bush Road.

A team of sewer experts from the Thames Water spent last week working to break up and remove the fatberg using high powered water jets, so as to prevent sewer flooding to nearby homes and business.

Dave Dennis, Thames Water sewer operations manager, said wet wipes and cooking fat were the main culprits - with £12 million a year spent on rectifying blockages.

The fatberg. Picture: Thames Water

Picture: Thames Water

"The sewers serve an important purpose - they are not an abyss for household rubbish. Fat goes down the drain easily enough, but when it hits the cold sewers, it hardens into disgusting ‘fatbergs’ that block pipes," Mr Dennis commented.

"Wet wipes cling to the fat. Fat clings to the wipes. And pretty soon your fatberg is out of control and sewage is backing up into roads, gardens and in the worst cases flooding up through toilets and into homes.

"We’ve found all sorts in this sewer – from tennis balls to planks of wood . It goes without saying they shouldn’t be in those pipes. London – bin it, don’t block it."

The Shepherd’s Bush fatberg - while massive - will have to go a long way to go to beat the one that built up in Kingston last year, reaching 15-tonnes.

London’s worst offender for blockages is Harrow, with 13,417 reported in the last five years.