Monster fatberg found blocking Sidmouth sewer

  • Published
Media caption,
South West Water has urged people "not to feed the fatberg"

A giant fatberg which is 210ft (64m) long has been found blocking a sewer in a seaside town.

The solid "monster", which is made up of fat, wet wipes and grease, was found near the sea in Sidmouth, Devon.

South West Water (SWW) said the fatberg was the biggest it had found and it would take about eight weeks to remove.

The firm's director of wastewater said he was thankful it was discovered "in good time" with "no risk" to the quality of sea bathing waters.

Andrew Roantree said the discovery showed fatbergs were not only found in the UK's biggest cities, "but right here in our coastal towns".

At 210ft, it is longer than the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, longer than a Boeing 747SP (185ft), and more than twice as long as a tennis court, (78ft).

SWW said the chances of people's loos backing up as a result were "very unlikely" because the fatberg, found in a large sewer near the seafront, was far from homes.

My fight against wet wipes

Image source, South West Water
Image caption,
The fatberg in Sidmouth is the largest South West Water has ever discovered

Wildlife photographer Jason Alexander, 47, found 561 wet wipes on the River Orwell near Ipswich.

He has been documenting his discoveries since last March.

He said: "I had been taking a series of sunrise photos on consecutive days and each time I had to remove rubbish. I once found 600 wet wipes.

"It made me set up @ukrubbishwalks to raise awareness of the problem."

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Mr Alexander has also found cotton buds, tampon applicators and pregnancy test kits.

He wants to see homes fitted with waste pipe filters so that householders see first hand what is happening when they flush material like wet wipes.

"People are inherently lazy and want to get rid of stuff as conveniently as possible," he said.

"We have to keep reminding that when it comes to flushing down the loo, it is just not acceptable."

Media caption,
What causes fatbergs?

Fatbergs form when people put things such as fat, wet wipes, sanitary towels, nappies and condoms, down sinks and toilets.

A 250m-long fatberg weighing 130 tonnes was famously found blocking a Victorian-era sewer in east London in 2017 and took nine weeks to remove.

A chunk of it subsequently went on show at the Museum of London and was hailed for increasing visitor numbers.

Sewer workers discovered the fatberg in Sidmouth in December but they will not find its exact size or weight until they start to remove it.

Work is due to start on 4 February.

Image source, South West Water
Image caption,
A sewer worker stands next to the fatberg which will take eight weeks to remove

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