Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Water service employees in England are working to remove a massive fatberg from a local sewer.
Thames Water said the 820-foot lump of fat, wet wipes and similar items in Whitechapel weighs 130 tons and is blocking London sewers systems.
"This fatberg is up there with the biggest we've ever seen. It's a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove as it's set hard," Matt Rimmer, Thames Water's head of waste networks, said. "It's basically like trying to break up concrete. It's frustrating as these situations are totally avoidable and caused by fat, oil and grease being washed down sinks and wipes flushed down the loo."
The fatberg may have caused raw sewage to flood into the streets if not discovered during a routine inspection.
"We check our sewers routinely but these things can build up really quickly and cause big problems with flooding, as the waste gets blocked," Rimmer said. "It's fortunate in this case that we've only had to close off a few parking bays to get to the sewer. Often we have to shut roads entirely, which can cause widespread disruption - especially in London."
Crews have been working seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to remove about 20 to 30 tons of the monstrous fatberg per shift.
Thames water has launched a campaign to encourage residents to dispose of wet wipes in bins rather than flushing them down the toilet and have met with food outlets to discuss how to properly dispose of fat.
"When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play," said Rimmer. "Yes a lot of the fat comes from food outlets but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish and our message to everyone is clear - please 'Bin it - don't block it.'"