The ‘Monster Whitechapel fatberg’ became a global celebrity immediately after the London Evening Standard broke our news story in September 2017.
And it’s been incredible to watch the beast grow – long after being hacked, chiselled and sucked out of the sewer and turned into green energy.
It was a gruesome, rancid 130 tonne lump of fat, oil, wet wipes, nappies and other unflushables discovered clogging an East End sewer. It was the length of two Wembley football pitches and a true modern-day human creation.
It was not the first, but there was something dark and mysterious about this evil creature found in Jack the Ripper territory.
It went on to inspire a Museum of London exhibition, hit headlines around the world, was the focus of a Greg James Radio 1 show, featured in a Channel 4 documentary (Fatberg Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers, April 24) and now could be heading to the stage. Fatberg the musical, why not?
It’s great to see it capture imaginations, shock and disgust, and get people talking about what happens next to their waste.
But there is a serious side. Fatberg is a word coined by Thames Water to bring the severe problem – blockages cost the business over £1m a month to clear – of sewer abuse to life.
Often people don’t realise the consequences of flushing anything other than human waste and toilet paper. Having sewage flood your property or business as a result of a blockage is hugely distressing and, in many cases, avoidable.
Our ‘Bin it – don’t block it’ campaign makes it clear wet wipes are enemy number one. They simply don’t break down like loo roll. We’re also working with food establishments to trap fat, oil and grease in kitchens, before it can reach our sewer.
But the fact is, for now, fatbergs are lurking, congealing and growing fast under our feet. A vivid reminder that out of sight is not gone forever, so please help keep our sewers flowing – ‘don’t feed the fatberg’.