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Work to clear Devon’s largest fatberg finishes

28th March 2019

A giant fatberg lurking under a Devon seaside town has been successfully removed.

The 64-metre monster, made of congealed, fat, oil and wet wipes, was discovered by South West Water under The Esplanade in Sidmouth just before Christmas.

Work to remove the fatberg, the biggest ever discovered in Devon or Cornwall and thought to be one of the largest found so close to the sea, started in February and finishes today (28 March).

For nearly eight weeks, workers have braved exceptionally challenging conditions to break up the beast. They had to be winched into the sewer via a manhole, and for the first few days needed to wear full breathing apparatus because of dangerous gases in the pipe. At times, water levels in the sewer made it too treacherous to enter. Specialist jetting equipment and manual labour were used to break up the fatberg before it was loaded onto tankers.

In total, 36 tanker loads – each 3,000 gallons – of debris have been excavated and removed by a dedicated team of seven confined-space specialists. The fatberg was taken to a local sewage treatment works where it was fed into the anaerobic digester and produced energy to power the plant.

South West Water’s Director of Wastewater, Andrew Roantree, said: “Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the team for all their hard work and to the people of Sidmouth for their patience during the fatberg’s removal.

“The Sidmouth fatberg is the largest discovered in our service history, and illustrates how this key environmental issue is not just facing the UK’s biggest cities but our coastal towns as well.

“The fatberg has made headlines all over the world, and we really hope that this will help everyone to remember to only flush the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo – down the loo and to dispose of fat, oil and grease in the bin not down the sink.”

Dedicated ‘Love Your Loo’ advisers from South West Water have been on hand in the town, firstly in a pop-up shop on the High Street and then at the library and swimming pool, to answer residents’ questions about the fatberg and what should and shouldn’t be flushed.

Over the next couple of weeks advisers will also be visiting hotels, restaurants, cafes and takeaways to offer advice to businesses on the best ways of disposing of fat, oil and grease.

Andrew added: “Although not on the same scale as the Sidmouth fatberg, we deal with around 8,500 blocked sewers every year, which costs about £4.5million to clear and adds to bills.

“Most of these blockages are caused by people inappropriately flushing baby wipes, hygiene wipes, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products which do not break down in the same way as toilet paper and get glued together by fat, oil and grease poured down drains.

“Thankfully the Sidmouth fatberg has now gone but we’ll need the help of the people of Sidmouth to make sure it never returns.”

The final two tankers leave Sidmouth on Thursday 28 March. The site compound will be removed and The Esplanade reopened to traffic on Friday 29 March.

For further information please contact:

South West Water