1. ITV Report

Foot long fatberg freed from North East sewer

The fatberg made up of congealed fats, oils and grease was found in the Cambois area. Credit: Northumbrian Water

A foot long fatberg and a skip full of wrongly flushed items have been removed from a clogged up North East sewer.

The fatberg made up of congealed fats, oils and greases, was found at one of the company's sewage treatment works in the Cambois area, along with items ranging from wet wipes, nappies, cotton buds, condoms, sanitary products and needles that had all been wrongly flushed into the sewer system.

The fatberg, measuring around a foot long and around ten inches wide, took sewage crews from Northumbrian Water a full day to remove from the treatment works in Northumberland.

Some of the wrongly flushed items found inside the North East sewer network. Credit: Northumbrian Water

Fatbergs form when fats, oils and grease are wrongly poured down the sink and then harden in the sewer network. They then block pipes and items like wet wipes stick to them causing them to grow in size and cause problems.

Fat, oils and grease should be cooled before being disposed of in a bin. Northumbrian Water says one of the biggest problems is wet wipes, 64% of the 15,600 blockages cleared in 2019 were caused by them.

Fatbergs are a nightmare for us and this one in Cambois could have caused us real issues. Luckily our teams spotted it during maintenance work and were able to remove it before it caused any serious damage.

"Although fatbergs are a problem for us, wet wipes are the main cause of blockages and we need our customer's help by making one simple change - that's to Bin The Wipe.

"Blockages can have devastating consequences, from people's homes being flooded to the environment being polluted, but just by binning the wipe, this small change will make a massive difference.

"It's rarely the case wet wipes are ‘flushable' despite being promoted on the packaging they are. They may leave your toilet bowl when flushed but can clog up householders' plumbing and can also cause blockages in our network of sewer pipes.

"Even biodegradable products often don't break down as quickly as toilet paper and can linger in sewer pipes, contributing to blockages. If customers are going to use any sort of wipe, then please put them in a bin, toilets are not a bin."

– Simon Cyhanko, Head of Wastewater Networks at Northumbrian Water

Which areas are the worst offenders for blockages in the North East? Here's the top ten hot spots in 2019:

  • NE34 - South Shields (460 blockages)
  • NE5 - Newcastle upon Tyne (323 blockages)
  • DL1 - Darlington (309 blockages)
  • NE23 - Northumberland (277 blockages)
  • NE28 - North Tyneside (273 blockages)
  • TS19 - Stockton-on-Tees (273 blockages)
  • TS10 - Redcar and Cleveland (270 blockages)
  • DH6 - County Durham (264 blockages)
  • DH9 - County Durham (263 blockages)
  • SR8 - County Durham (261 blockages)