What Does One of London’s Biggest Fatbergs Say About Residents?

In April, Channel 4 debuted the ‘Fatberg Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers’ documentary, in attempt to decipher what the monstrosity of one of London’s largest fatbergs can tell us about the habits of the city’s residents.

Alternative Drainage and water works companies throughout the countries often explain how fatbergs are formed; mainly through the incorrect disposal of fats, oils, and grease, in their liquid form, which then solidifies under colder temperatures in the sewers. Before solidifying, the substances then pick up other objects along the way; this could vary from chocolate wrappers, to cotton earbuds.

However, the Fatberg Autopsy documentary literally puts fatbergs under the microscope, to analyse what substances really make up their humongous composition. At the University of Cambridge and University of York, scientists carried out a widespread inspection of the South Bank fatberg, and underneath the cooking oils and other dirt, revealed a darker side to the habits of London residents.

Scientists found traces of narcotic drugs such as MDMA and cocaine, in addition to performance enhancing drug ‘ostarine’ which is banned by global anti-doping agencies in sport. Following these findings, researcher at University of York’s environment department argued that these samples can’t be quantified as a realistic example of London or UK residents;

“When you put a bucket down into the sewer and bring a few millilitres of water back up, what’s in those few millilitres is not necessarily representative of what’s underneath the whole of London,”

Throughout the U.K. the cost of extracting fatbergs from the sewers equates to more than £80 million per year. Whilst these darker substances may not reflect the habits and lifestyles of every person in the country, the sheer volume of these fatbergs are surely enough to alarm residents of their flushing practices. As previously mentioned, only the three Ps should be flushed; pee, poo and (toilet) paper.

As a sewage expert in Yorkshire, Alternative Drainage often come across drain blockages because of solidified fats, oils and grease, that manage to collect other substances along the way. We understand that these can occur by accident, which is why we respond to calls 24/7 in regions in and around Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield and more. Our emergency number is 0800 980 1362.