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Fatberg

How cleaning a foul water pipe prevented fatberg at the London Trocadero

 

Fat removal from pipes

In 2013, a team of sewerage workers took over three weeks to clear a huge fatberg, believed to be equal to the size of a bus. The initial sign of danger came about when local residents in a block of flats, around the royal borough main sewer, complained about a challenge in flushing their toilets. The gravity of the issue was laid bare when it was revealed that the fatberg, largely made up of solidified grease and oil, obstructed 95% of the 2.4-meter diameter, brick sewer pipe. It is believed by environmental experts that the royal borough of Kingston came close to being flooded with sewage.

It might be useful to have a simple definition of fatberg. Fatberg is viewed as a solidified lump of fat, wet wipes, sanitary items and similar elements found in a sewer system. These items do not break down like toilet paper, hence they become congealed or solidified.

It is commonly believed by sewage and water companies that fatbergs are becoming more frequent. In the UK, London seems to have the highest concentration of food businesses and tends to create an estimated 32m-44m litres of used cooking oil yearly. It is believed that much of this cooking oil is poured down the drains. There is also the increasing use of wet pipes which could have implications below ground level.

 

Fat removal from pipes

On the 30th of April, a team of drainage engineers from Hydro Cleansing, went down to the Trocadero to work on a foul drain. The Trocadero in London has been a popular entertainment complex, but it is currently being looked at converting into one of West end’s biggest budget hotel. The team of drainage engineers from Hydro Cleansing, used a super combination unit, CCTV unit and a support van with a 50 meters of 4” vacuum hose, to clean out a 40 meters of 9 and 12” foul water pipe.

In accordance with good practice, the fatberg and drainage team, removed the fat from the pipe, to prevent it from growing into fatberg, which could lead to sewage flooding. To ensure the job was carried out to the highest standard, the super combination unit was required to reverse into the building and the vacuum hose was lowered down about 20 meters to support the rope.

The job was carried out by Hydro Cleansing, with environmental safety as a priority. Understanding the importance of preventing a fatberg from developing similar to that at the royal borough of Kingston was important. It was also important to ensure that the fat was extracted from the water pipe and cleaned to a high level.

We are passionate about the environment and our Fatberg and Grease trap emptying divisions, are equipped to provide you with comprehensive service and maintenance of your pipes and sewer systems. You can contact our dedicated team on 020 8689 3339.

Kingston Fatberg

Over the past few weeks you can’t have escaped the press coverage that has surrounded the now infamous fatberg lurking under Kingston, southwest London. If you have then you’ve most probably been hiding down a sewer yourself! The supposed ‘bus sized’ fatberg could have potentially pushed raw sewage up into homes and onto the streets of Kingston but how has this been allowed to happen?

Weighing in at a reported 15 tonnes this mount of congealed fat, oil and grease mixed with other revolting waste products was brought to the attention of local water authorities after local residents complained about having difficulty flushing their toilets. But how can its weight have been calculated when it hadn’t even been removed.  Surely the actual weight of a fatberg cannot be decided properly until the job is complete?

Subject to contrary belief we believe the fatberg is yet to be fully removed and in fact weighs a lot less than 15 tonne. Without the necessary equipment and technical know-how the removal of this particular fatberg will take a lot longer than expected, all the while still causing problems for local residents. Time and investment are an essential requirement when it comes to preparing yourself to undertake such specialist works. Megatron is a textbook example of this.

Megatron was commissioned back in 2008 when Hydro Cleansing invested over half a million pounds engineering this wastewater monster to our own personal spec. From our perspective we had three main objectives we wanted to achieve:

  1. Increase the capability of a single onsite vehicle, which also reduces our environmental impact and carbon footprint
  2. Cope with the inevitable migration from planned to reactive works
  3. Time efficiency, reducing job turnaround times

With Megatron now undertaking works that were previously relinquished, and with more units in the pipeline, Hydro Cleansing are more than capable of embarking on any major works or specialist projects all the while alleviating any concerns that the job is to big or can’t be done at all.

Kingston Fatberg

Image taken from www.theguardian.com

Food fat

10 things you should never flush down your toilet

Food fat

Remember to avoid flushing any of these items, which have been fished out from under our streets:

1. Food fat 

A serious problem, as it tends to bind around wet wipes and other detritus like clay around straw. “It slips down sinks very easily when it’s warm,” says Evans, “but once it hits our sewers it cools down and congeals into what we call fatbergs.”

2. Condoms

Difficult to flush, but clearly many people manage it. Evans: “I’ve been down the sewers in central London and seen what appear to be fish on the surface. They’re actually condoms filled with air, bobbing around. It is pretty grim.”

3. Pets 

Goldfish are most common, of course, but hamsters and gerbils are also seen. “They don’t help, because they’re quite sturdy little things.”

4. Nappies 

These are a rarity, because of the sheer difficulty of getting one round the U-bend to begin with, but the blockages they cause can be terrible.

5. Human body parts

These have been found by Thames Water “flushers”, as sewer operatives are known – most often fingers or even hands. In truth, the people sending them down toilets probably have bigger things than sewer abuse to worry about.

6. Cotton buds and tampons 

They just won’t break down. It may take months or years for a fatty ball of them to accumulate, but in the end they do block drains, which then have to be unblocked by hand.

7. Half a Mini 

Probably a one-off, this. “It was dragged out of one of our major London sewers. Pretty bizarre. Obviously that didn’t get flushed down the toilet.”

8. Paint and building waste

The viscosity of paint causes problems when it joins a fatberg. Bits of rubble are heavy enough to settle in bends, providing a base on which wet wipes and food can collect.

9. Drug paraphernalia

Syringes are the main problem, being very nasty and unhygienic.

10. Food 

A piece of bread won’t do any harm, but bones or even apple cores do cause trouble. Sweetcorn collects in large quantities in the sewers, as yellow as it was in the field.

To see the full story and for the source of this information see The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/shortcuts/2012/oct/26/10-things-you-should-never-flush?CMP=twt_gu
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