Britain’s largest ‘fatberg‘ — which stretches to 250 metres in length — has been discovered clogging up a sewer under Whitechapel in east London.
The block of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil weighs a staggering 130 tonnes, making it larger than 11 double-decker buses put together.
Engineers have started their three-week mission to dislodge the muck, which is longer than Tower Bridge, before it is sucked up into a fleet of tankers.
Thames Water’s head of waste networks Matt Rimmer said: “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. 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 last huge fatberg, which was Britain’s biggest until now, was discovered in Kingston-upon-Thames, south west London, in 2013.
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The new blockage, which is larger than 11 double decked buses, will be attacked by an eight-strong crew using high-powered jet hoses to break up the mass.
Rimmer added: “We check our sewers routinely but these things can build up really quickly and cause big problems with flooding, as the waste gets blocked.
“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.”
“When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play,” he added.
Thames Water says it spends around £1 million a month clearing blockages from its sewers, all caused by items like fat, wipes, nappies, cotton buds, sanitary products and condoms.
They have launched a new campaign called ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ in a bid to reduce the amount of rubbish put down sinks and toilets.