Workers flush out record ‘fatberg’

Published 3:28pm 17 August 2022

Workers flush out record ‘fatberg’
Words by Jodie Powell

Unitywater staff got more than they bargained for as they worked to remove a massive, messy blockage from a sewage pump station at Brendale.

It took all night for them to remove the largest fatberg ever found in the Unitywater sewerage network.

Weighing more than a tonne, the smelly, congealed mass is a result of people flushing wet wipes and other items that don’t belong in the sewer.

Unitywater executive manager Rhett Duncan says “it was an overnight job” to clear the mass.

“It took most of the night by the time our crews lifted the pump and dug the rags and fatberg off by hand and got it operating again,” he says.

“It’s not a nice job and doesn’t smell very pleasant, but somebody has to do it and we have the right crew for the job.

“We’d love to be using the crews to do maintenance work elsewhere on our network.”

Fatbergs form when grease, oil and fats are poured down the sink and meet up with non-biodegradable material. The result is a solid mass that grows as more debris is trapped.

Three Ps the key

Rhett says it’s easy to prevent fatbergs and other blockages by ensuring anything other than pee, poo and paper is put in the bin.

“We ask people to only flush the Three Ps – pee, poo and toilet paper,” he says.

“The same goes for the kitchen sink – fats and oils belong in the bin as these can clog private plumbing as well as wreaking havoc on the sewerage network.

“If people are flushing things that don’t belong in the sewer, it can block private plumbing and that can certainly lead to expensive personal plumbing bills.”

Workers flush out record ‘fatberg’

While the fatberg’s a record for Unitywater, it’s a drop in the ocean compared with monster masses found in the UK.

In 2017 a 127-tonne blockage was found in London’s East End, while in 2019 it took workers eight weeks to clear a 64m-long fatberg containing bones, twigs and false teeth from a sewer in South West England.

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