While icebergs are melting in the Arctic, a huge « fatberg » has shown up in a London sewer.

It all started when residents near the Royal borough’s main sewer said they encountered difficulties flushing their toilets. A team of brave sewage workers found what they call a « fatberg », meaning a huge amount of solidified grease and oil blocking at least 95% of the 2.4 metre diameter sewer pipe.

Simon Evans, a Thames Water spokesman said « Kingston came very close to being flooded with sewage. We have recorded greater volumes of fat in the past but we don't believe there's ever been a single congealed lump of lard matching this one."

The fatbergs looked like mushy stalactites up on the sewer roofs. They’ve been qualified as « a sick-smelling, rottingmass of filth and faeces » by Simon Evans.

With a high concentration of food businesses, London has seen a huge amount of fatbergs appearing  in the last few years. Not less than 32 million litres of used cooking oil are poured down drains each year. Fat and sanitary wipes wrongly put down drains by restaurants and households cause Thames Water to clear nearly 40,000 blockages a year.

Gordon Hailwood, in charge of cleaning the fatberg with his team, said "Given we've got the biggest sewers and this is the biggest fatberg we've encountered, we reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history".

The sewer is now so damaged that it will take more than 6 weeks to repair it!


Video : BBC News 'Bus sized fatberg' removed from London sewer