200-tonne fatberg 'the size of two blue whales' found under Essex town

Emily Cleary
·2 min read
The unflushable waste was the size of two blue whales - the largest mammals on earth (swns)
The unflushable waste was the size of two blue whales – the largest mammals on earth. (SWNS)

Images of a 'fatberg' the size of two blue whales have been shared by a water company.

The 200 tonnes of unflushable waste was cleared from 80 km of sewer pipes underneath Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

It was cleared from the sewers in the town after a four-month operation.

Anglian Water, which began the clean-up operation in December and completed it this week, said that some pipes were found to be up to 85% full of unflushable materials, and is asking people to help keep sewers free of blockages by only flushing the 3Ps – "poo, paper and pee" – down the loo. 

Anything else, including wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products should go in the bin.

The waste, once removed, was "roughly the equivalent of two blue whales", the company said.

The unflushable waste was the size of two blue whales - the largest mammals on earth (swns)
Anglian Water is urging residents to only flush 'the 3Ps' down the toilet – poo, paper and pee. (SWNS)

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As well as plenty of the 'usual culprits' such as wet wipes and sanitary products, officials also found tools, toys, concrete, and even kitchen utensils blocking the pipes.

The work, which took place beneath Southend's town centre, was undertaken to help prevent flooding in the area, which is often caused by a build-up of unflushables in the pipes.

Fat, oils and grease, and other unflushables were detected across the network.

These were at the highest volume within the town centre and at the pumping station, with 15 tonnes of fat being cleared from the pumps alone.

Ben Hatfield-Wright, water recycling network efficiency manager for Anglian Water, said: "We have been astounded by the amount of unflushables found in Southend-on-Sea.

"In addition to the wet wipes and sanitary products which we find are the usual culprits for blockages we also found concrete, tools, toys and kitchen utensils."

The water company will now be installing 24 sensors across the 80km network to monitor flow, levels and temperature, to ensure the pipes keep flowing to enable engineers to identify any emerging issues before they cause problems.

The unflushable waste was the size of two blue whales - the largest mammals on earth (swns)
A workman is dwarfed by the mound of unflushable waste removed from beneath Southend-on-Sea town centre. (SWNS)

Areas showing signs of deterioration will be investigated to find the source of the issue, and all customer connections to the mains in the area will be checked.

Anglian Water also advised that only used water should go down the sink – fats, oils and grease should be saved to reuse in cooking and baking.

And before washing up or loading the dishwasher, make sure plates and pots are scraped into a food caddy or bin.

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