With more and more reports of fatbergs occurring across the UK and the world, this is one challenge that doesn’t seem to be going away. It also raises the question, which fatbergs are the largest? In no particular order, we take a look at some of the biggest, most stubborn fatbergs found across the globe.
6 August 2013
A fatberg roughly the size of a bus that weighed 15 tonnes (17 short tons), consisting of food fat and wet wipes, was discovered in drains under London Road in Kingston upon Thames, London.
1 September 2014
In 2014, a solid mass of waste fat, wet wipes, food, tennis balls and wood planks, the size of a Boeing 747 aeroplane was discovered and cleared by sanitation workers in a drain beneath an 80-metre (260 ft) section of road in Shepherd's Bush, London.
3 September 2014
In September 2014, the sewerage system beneath the metropolis of Melbourne, Australia was clogged by a large mass of fat, grease and waste.
As part of a campaign against drain blocking, Welsh Water released a video showing a fatberg in drains in Cardiff. Hidden inside it was all the detritus that helped to block the sewers, which included a mini motorbike, a football goal net, a pair of trousers, and a chair leg.
A 40-metre-long (130 ft) fatberg was removed from sewers under Chelsea. It took over two months to remove, and the damage it caused cost an estimated £400,000 to repair.
A 120-metre-long (390 ft) fatberg was discovered in Welshpool in a Powys sewer in mid-Wales. The fat blockage was 120m long, the length of a football pitch.
A blockage caused by a fatberg near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, damaged the Eleebana sewage pumping station. The huge fatberg weighed one tonne and took four hours to remove by crane.
In September 2017, a 250-metre-long (820 ft) fatberg weighing over 130 tonnes (140 short tons) was found under Whitechapel, London. Teams worked seven days a week at a cost of £1 million per month and it still took two months to destroy it.
Two pieces of the fatberg were cut off on 4 October 2017 and, after several weeks of drying, were displayed at the Museum of London from 9 February 2018 through June 2018, as part of the museum's City Now City Future season. The fatberg became one of the museum's most popular exhibits.
In the US during the same year, a fatberg of congealed fat, wet wipes, and waste was discovered under the streets of Baltimore, Maryland that caused the spillage of 1.2 million US gallons (4.5 million litres; 1.0 million imperial gallons) of sewage into Jones Falls.
A fatberg discovered under South Bank in London is suspected to be larger than the one found under Whitechapel, east London, which weighed the same as eleven double-decker buses and stretched the length of two football pitches.
Sewer workers discovered a fatberg in Sidmouth, Devon that was 64 metres (210 ft) long. Workers took eight weeks to remove it. It was the largest fatberg discovered in the UK outside a major city and the largest in the history of South West Water.
The largest fatberg in the UK was discovered in a sewer at Birchall Street in Liverpool. It weighed 400 tonnes (440 short tons) and was 250 metres (820 ft) long. It was still being removed four months later in June as it proved especially difficult to break down using conventional tools and equipment.
The first occurrence of a large fatberg in the north of England was reported by United Utilities under HM Prison Manchester. The 52-metre-long (170 ft) fatberg ran from HMP Manchester, formerly known as Strangeways, to Hornby Street and was estimated to weigh around “the same as three elephants", taking several weeks to fully remove.
A 42-tonne fatberg the size of a petrol tanker was discovered in Melbourne, Australia. Its unusually large size in relation to other Australian blockages meant it exceeded the 2014 and 2016 Australian fatbergs. It was blamed initially on the shortage of toilet paper caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
26 June 2020
Two years after a large mass of fat was jet cleaned from Gisborne's sewer network in New Zealand, a half-tonne fatberg built-up again in the same place. The second fatberg caused an overflow of the wastewater system, which the Gisborne District Council attributed to COVID-19 claiming that they "had significant problems with pump stations blocking because more people were at home and their behaviour had changed.”
A 10-tonne (more than an African elephant) fatberg made up of grease, fat, and wet wipes were removed from sewers under Cadogan Place in Belgravia, London. Thames Water engineers dug through 300m (984 ft) of silt and grease to reach the 30m (98 ft)-long fatberg before blasting it with water jets.
A "huge and disgusting" fatberg described as having the same weight as a bungalow was removed from under Yabsley Street in Canary Wharf, London, England. It took Thames Water engineers two weeks and "brute force" to unclog the foul-smelling mass of fat, grease and "unflushable" items from a sewage path in Canary Wharf.
A giant fatberg, weighing about 300 tonnes, was found to be clogging a sewer in the Hodge Hill area of Birmingham, England. Severn Trent commented that it was estimated to be one of the biggest blockages they had ever dealt with. The mass measured over a metre high, and over 1,000 metres in length.
Fatbergs can affect pumping stations as often as they affect sewer systems. This is because pump stations are sometimes used for pumping sewerage to the nearest sewer system. We recommend calling in the experts for regular pump station cleaning to avoid fatbergs becoming an issue. Plus, find out more about our drainage service in London, by reading our Drainage in London page.