Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019
Fatberg Causes New Year Disruption in Staffordshire Town
Two years ago, London’s 130-ton fatberg hit the headlines. But similar manifestations are emerging elsewhere across the country.
Residents of the Staffordshire town of Cannock had their new year celebrations disrupted in the most unpleasant way imaginable when a fatberg led to chaos, flooding gallons of raw sewage down a busy street outside a supermarket.
At this time of year, regular drain cleaning is essential to reduce the likelihood of flooding due to extreme weather conditions, putting the infrastructure under pressure. However, the incident had nothing to do with meteorological conditions.
What is a fatberg?
As most people are already aware, a fatberg is a congealed mass of non-biodegradable matter that forms in a sewer. Fatbergs are predominantly comprised of grease, cooking fat, wet wipes and other things that should not be flushed down toilets. London has experienced several fatbergs in recent years, including a 50 metre monster that was discovered under the streets of Soho in 2017.
Following that incident, everyone was talking about fatbergs and Channel 4 even commissioned a fatberg autopsy for a documentary on the topic. It revealed some shocking facts about just what Londoners are putting down their toilets.
A river of sewage
The events in Cannock over New Year demonstrate that fatbergs are not just restricted to the capital. Severn Trent Water confirmed to local media that a sewer pipe beneath Walsall Road, to the south of the town, had become blocked because of a fatberg comprised of congealed cooking fat and baby wipes. The blockage caused a build-up of pressure, with toilets backing up in local premises. Ultimately, it led to gallons of raw human waste flooding down the street.
Local priest, Father Peter Weatherby, was among the first to notice that something was going badly wrong when he became aware of a “foul odour” at around 10AM. He initially thought it was slush, but then realised the temperature was too warm for that to be possible. Father Weatherby filmed the river of “yellow gunky liquid with bits in it” as it flooded both sides of the road, blocking access to the local Aldi supermarket.
A local resident out for some shopping also got caught up in the chaos. Jane Meadows had driven to Aldi for some New Year supplies, but found the stench so overpowering that she was “gagging at the smell” and had to postpone her shopping trip. She told reporters: “It comes to something when you have to cross a river of poo to reach the supermarket.”
After carrying out a full assessment, a Severn Trent spokesman said the sewer pipe had not burst, but the blockage had simply left the waste with nowhere else to go but out onto the street. He confirmed that a heavy jetting machine would be deployed as a matter of priority to clear the message and allow the residents of Cannock to enjoy a less fraught and sweeter smelling New Year.