BBC’s Blue Planet tackles Fatbergs

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This week, the Fatberg phenomenon will be discussed on Blue Planet. Presenter Steve Brown visits the Fatberg-hit town of Sidmouth and speaks to South West Water’s Director of Wastewater, Andrew Roantree, about the dangers posed to the oceans by this very modern problem.

Fatbergs seem to be popping up everywhere these days but what exactly are they? When fats, oils and grease (FOG) are allowed enter the drains they cling to wet wipes and other materials flushed into the sewer. After a while large balls of fat form which soon become so big they block the sewer line. This grease and wet wipe monstrosity is known as a Fatberg.

Sewers are the arteries of a city and just like within the human body too much fatty waste could result in a cardiac arrest of sorts.

The giant fatberg in Sidmouth attracted national attention when it was discovered below The Esplanade a few months ago. It is a 64-metre long mass of congealed fat and wet wipes – the same size as six double decker buses.

The cost to remove this fatberg was in the region of £130,000!!

When the issue of plastic was raised in Blue Planet 2 by Sir David Attenborough everyone sat up and took notice. Hopefully, with the spot light on fatbergs people will become more conscious of what they throw down the drain. Just because it is out of sight does not mean it is not damaging the local environment.

What can be done about it? The message is clear don’t flush wet wipes even if they say “Flushable”. Everything is flushable, doesn’t mean its not harmful. Then try not to pour fatty liquids down the drain. If you are a commercial kitchen operator put in a grease trap that is correctly sized and works.

Grease Guardians have been installed across the country for decades. FM Environmental Ltd, manufacturers of the Grease Guardian understood the problem associated with grease years before the term Fatberg was ever uttered.

“Grease has always been a problem” explains Grease Guardian Product Manager Eamon Fitzpatrick. “We saw fat build up in our wastewater treatment plants and pumps. Traditional grease traps were not being emptied on time and dosing with enzymes seemed to simply move the problem downstream. The Grease Guardian traps the grease like any grease trap but removes it on the same day without the need to call in a pump truck. If every business had one, we wouldn’t be talking about Fatbergs today”.

The programme will broadcasts on BBC One at 4.30pm on Wednesday, March 27