It was one of the biggest ‘fatbergs’ ever discovered in the UK.
Now scientists have released the results of an ‘autopsy’ into a horrifying clump of nastiness discovered under The Esplanade in Sidmouth, Devon, just before Christmas last year.
The 64-metre ‘monster’ was bigger than the Tower of Pisa.
An unfortunate team at the University of Exeter were handed great 10kg chunks of the beast and asked to work out what was inside it.
The team found that the samples they received were mostly made of animal fats from domestic food preparation – combined with household hygiene products such as wet wipes and sanitary products, as well as natural and artificial fibres from toilet tissues and laundry.
They even found a set of false teeth.
The fatberg samples were melted to see what was inside, with the team discovering incontinence pads and sanitary products.
Scientists also used state-of-the-art equipment to study the fats, particles, fibres and microbiological DNA included in the material.
Crucially the team found the fatberg contained no detectable levels of toxic chemicals – meaning its presence in the sewer, while increasing the risk of a blockage did not pose a chemical or biological risk to the environment or human health.
South West Water’s director of Wastewater, Andrew Roantree, explained: “Although we deal with around 8,500 blocked sewers every year, the Sidmouth fatberg was by far the largest discovered in our service history. We wanted to learn as much as we could about it, how it was created and what it was made of to help us avoid further fatbergs in future.
‘The results confirm our suspicions, that fat and non-flushable products such as wipes are the main culprits, and that fatbergs are a consequence of the individual and collective impact that our behaviour has on our environment.
”We will be using these results to help us education, inform and change the behaviours of people in terms of what they are putting down the toilet and sink. That’s not just applicable to Sidmouth, but across our region.
‘We really do need the help of the people of Sidmouth and the South West to prevent another fatberg forming. Please only flush the 3Ps – pee, paper and poo – down the loo and to dispose of fat, oil and grease in the bin not down the sink.’
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