Severn Trent battling monster Birmingham fatberg

Friday 30th April

Teams from Severn Trent are working hard to try and clear a giant fatberg clogging a sewer in Hodge Hill, Birmingham.

The fatberg, which is estimated to be one meter high and over 1000 metres in length is believed to weigh around 300 tonnes - equivalent to 250 family cars. While the true extent of the blockage won’t be known until it is removed, it is likely to be one of the biggest blockages Severn Trent has ever dealt with. The fatberg is being tackled by teams around the clock but is expected to take until June to clear. 

Scott Burgin, operations manager at Severn Trent, said: “It’s a massive project and it’s not resolved yet. This giant mass is the result of everyone occasionally washing and flushing the wrong things down the drains, and not realising the impact that it’s having. The problem is that unlike toilet paper, wipes and other unflushables including nappies and sanitary products don’t break up or dissolve, so they easily get stuck in drains and sewers and then attach onto cooking oil and grease to create a fatberg. 

“Our advice is to always leave leftover cooking fat to cool, before disposing of it in the bin and to stick to only flushing the three P’s (pee, poo and toilet paper) and bin anything else. These relatively small changes can make a big difference and hopefully avoid any future fatbergs.”

The company said that in the last year alone it has been called out to thousands of blockages across the region, of which three quarters were caused by people misusing the sewer system.   

Severn Trent was alerted to the fatberg by sewer sensors which monitor for rising water levels. If an alert is triggered, a team of engineers respond to investigate and clear any blockages forming before customers are impacted. 

Scott added: “We’d like to apologise to any customers who might be affected by our work and thank the community for their patience and understanding. We’re working as quickly as we can to resolve this problem and get everything back to normal as quickly as possible.” 

Further information on how to avoid a blockage can be found here.