This 130-tonne ‘fatberg’ has been discovered under the streets of east London

caption
Here’s an image of the fatberg taken by sewer workers tasked with breaking it up and removing it.
source
Thames Water

A disgusting, congealed blob of fat, oil, and other unpleasant household waste has been discovered blocking a major sewer line underneath London.

The so-called “fatberg” weighs 130 tonnes, and is currently clogging a 250-metre stretch of piping underneath Whitechapel, east London.

Sewer workers investigating the ‘berg say that over time it has solidified, and is now as difficult to remove as concrete.

The blockage has been formed over years, as oily liquids and household products like wet wipes and nappies have been flushed or tipped into water pipes.

Fatberg map east London

caption
A map showing the fatberg’s approximate location in London.
source
Google Maps/Business Insider

Workers are currently waging what sewage company Thames Water describes as “a three-week sewer war” to liquefy and remove the fatberg.

Eight workers are using high-pressure jets of water to break up the blockage, which is then sucked into waiting tankers and transported to a recycling facility.

Whitechapel Fatberg 3

caption
Another view of the fatberg.
source
Thames Water

The operation is part of a constant effort to keep London’s sewage infrastructure functioning after more than a century of constant use.

The sewer inhabited by the Whitechapel fatberg was built in the Victorian era. It is supposed to provide a pipe 1.2m tall and 0.7m wide for waste to flow through, but is currently mostly unusable.Whitechapel Fatberg 4

caption
A Thames Water worker heads into the sewers to battle the fatberg.
source
Thames Water

London has been plagued by fatbergs before, spawning an entire industry of “flusher” technicians fighting back against the encroaching slime.

In 2014, Thames Water mounted an emergency operation to stop Whitehall, the administrative heart of the British Government, being overwhelmed by one of the blockages.