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In 2015 the term ‘fatberg’ was first included in the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as:

‘A very large mass of solid waste in a sewerage system, consisting especially of congealed fat and personal hygiene products that have been flushed down toilets’.

A few days ago a 90 tonne fatberg was found in a Liverpool sewer. This however is by no means a record – the concentration of people and restaurants in our capital means London is a world leader in sewer blockages. 2015 saw a 40 meter long fatberg weighing 10 tonnes damage a Chelsea sewer, costing £400,000 to fix. Nothing however can compare to the legendary 2017 Whitechapel Monster – measuring 250 metres and weighing 130 tonnes.

A fatberg comprises two main ingredients – wet wipes (and other flushed items) glued together by fats, oils and grease (‘FOG’) usually from commercial kitchens. 93% of the Whitechapel Monster was comprised of wet wipes, a mixture which hardened over time to resemble concrete.

Site visits to fast food outlets conducted by Thames Water discovered that 9 out of 10 did not have adequate grease traps and in the area of Whitechapel – none did.

It is not surprising then that ‘Fighting the Fatberg’ is the title of today’s British Water FOG Conferenceat Cranfield University – and the event is sold out. A ‘Fats, Oils and Grease’ code of practice has been produced for manufacturers/installers of FOG treatment equipment with a view to encourage minimum standards and Thames Water have published a guide for commercial kitchens.

Water UK estimate that water companies waste £100 million each year clearing blockages caused by things that don’t belong in our sewerage system. Since the de-regulation of the water industry in April 2017 most water suppliers are looking to recover this cost back from those whose inadequate equipment and working practices are causing the problem.

  • Do you operate a commercial kitchen?
  • Do suffer disruption and/or lost revenue due to blockages?
  • Do you use expensive bacteriological dosing chemicals?
  • Would your FOG management pass a site inspection?

To discuss how Auditel might assist with ensuring that your FOG provisions are cost-effective and compliant please contact us.


Article by: Steven Godfrey