Warning not to flush wet wipes as giant fatberg removed in Plymouth

The fatberg under Edinburgh Street before contractors started a month of work to dig it out. Credit: South West Water

A massive built-up of fat, oil and wetwipes have created a giantic fatberg underneath the streets of Plymouth.

The 50-metre monster, which is the same the same length as the height of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, has been painstakingly removed from the sewer in the Devonport area of the city.

The colossal build-up, which was one metre wide and one metre deep was discovered in a sewer which feeds Edinburgh Street pumping station in Devonport at the end of last year.

It took more than a month for a team of specialist contractors to remove 88 tonnes of debris and clean out the sewers.

The 50-metre fatberg was over a metre wide and a metre deep. Credit: South West Water

South West Water’s director of wastewater operations Mark Hillson said: “This is a serious reminder of the problems caused by products such as baby wipes, hygiene wipes, moist toilet tissues, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products, which don't break down in the same way that toilet paper does.

“Cooking oil, fat and grease disposed of down the sink can also build up and block pipes, particularly when mixed with these other materials.

“We would like to remind all our customers to only flush the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo – down the loo, and to not dispose of cooking fats, oils and greases down the sink.

“It took over a month to remove this monster in exceptionally challenging work conditions at a cost of nearly £100,000.”

The debris at times was so compacted the team had to break it up with picks, crow bars and hammers, while the large lumps had to be removed in buckets by crane and taken to landfill.

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