Fatberg ahead! Warning as Shropshire's sewers get blocked

By Lisa O'Brien | News | Published:

Water giant Severn Trent is urging businesses and householders in Shropshire to be more aware of what they dispose of in their sinks and toilets.

Fat and other unmentionables that poured down sinks and toilets congeal together in the sewers to form huge clumps that can block up pipes

The company has to deal with more than 50,000 blockages a year and says about two thirds of those are caused by people putting the wrong things down sinks and drains.

It is now working with major food chains such as YO! Sushi and JD Wetherspoon to help prevent sewer blockages and fatbergs from happening.

Fatbergs are congealed lumps of fat, sanitary napkins, wet wipes and similar items found in sewer systems which do not break down like toilet paper.

Severn Trent is helping to educate staff about what should not be poured down sinks and drains and is installing grease traps in restaurants.

Earlier this year, a fatberg measuring 250 metres long and weighing over 130 tons was found in London's sewers and is to be put on display in the Museum of London next year.

In 2015, Severn Trent found a sewer on Berriew Road, Welshpool, which was completely blocked by fat for 120 metres.

Severn Trent is warning people of the dangers of blocking sewers and drains.

Sarah-Jayne O'Kane, from the water company, said: "We actually had one not that long ago in Welshpool which was 120 metres long.


"We are unblocking over 50,000 blockages a year and about two thirds of those are caused by people disposing of the wrong things like fat, but also things like baby wipes and kitchen wipes.

"When they all congeal together with the fat it's causing these huge blockages and that then causes the sewers to back up.

"It's all avoidable if people don't put fat down the sink, if they don't put wipes down the toilet this is going to stop happening."

She said in Welshpool the sewer had started to back up and fatbergs were difficult to remove.


They can be dug out if they become solid.

She added: "Sometimes it becomes really solid, especially in weather like this. It becomes concrete like. It's a really big problem for us."

Ms O'Kane said fat can be put in a container or kitchen roll at home and put in the bin.

Severn Trent has been helping food businesses to set up an awareness raising programme on how to dispose of fats and oils from cooking.

The firm is also supporting them with regular maintenance of the sewer pipes near to the restaurants.

Ms O'Kane said: "We are working hard with businesses. They are quite good now at making sure they have grease traps. That can be recycled and can be an income stream for businesses."

Customers can report blocked sewers to Severn Trent by calling 0800 783 4444.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.


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