A ginormous fatberg weighing more than 130 tonnes has been discovered in a stretch of sewers in east London.
It will take Thames Water engineers around three weeks to remove the fatberg from under Whitechapel Road. The blob, consisting of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil, is believed to be one of the biggest that has ever accumulated.
Stretching more than 250m, the fatberg is twice the length of a football pitch and weighs the equivalent of 11 double-decker buses.
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."
An eight-man team will be required to remove the fatberg, which is 10 times the size of the one discovered in Kingston in 2013. The team will break down the fatberg using high-powered jet hoses before sucking it out with tankers, which take it away for disposal at a recycling site in Stratford.
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."
Thames Valley Police is launching the 'Bin it – don't block it' campaign to remind households how to dispose of items such as wet wipes properly rather than flushing them. It also visited food outlets earlier this year to discuss how they dispose of fat and food waste.
Rimmer said: "When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play. Yes a lot of the fat comes from food outlets but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish and our message to everyone is clear – please 'Bin it – don't block it'."