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A fatberg is a congealed lump of fat, sanitary napkins, wet wipes, condoms, diapers and similar items found in sewer systems, which do not break down like toilet paper. Such deposits are officially referred to using this term by authorities at Thames Water in London, UK.[1][2]

While fatbergs are problematic clogs in city sewer systems and can be as strong as concrete, they have also been identified as a source of fuel,[3] specifically biogas.[4]


"Fatberg" is a portmanteau of fat + berg, modelled on iceberg. The word was added to Oxford Dictionaries Online in 2015.[5]

Notable cases[edit]

  • 6 August 2013: A fatberg roughly the size of a bus that weighed 15 tonnes (17 tons), consisting of food fat and wet wipes, was discovered in drains under London Road in Kingston upon Thames, London.[6][7]
  • 1 September 2014: A collection 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 within a drain beneath a 260-foot (80 m) section of road in Shepherd's Bush, London.[8][9]
  • 3 September 2014: The sewerage system beneath Melbourne, Australia was clogged by a large mass of fat, grease and waste.[10]
  • January 2015: As part of a campaign against drain blocking, Welsh Water released a video showing a fatberg in drains in Cardiff.[11]
  • April 2015: A 40-metre-long (130 ft) fatberg was reported as having been removed from underneath Chelsea, London. It took over two months to remove the fatberg, and the damage it had caused was estimated to cost £400,000 to repair.[12]
  • January 2016: Blockage from a fatberg near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia damaged the Eleebana sewage pumping station. The fatberg "weighed about one tonne (1.1 tons) and took four hours to remove" by crane.[13]
  • September 2017: A 250-metre-long (820 ft) fatberg weighing over 140 tonnes (150 tons) was found under Whitechapel, London.[14]


  1. ^ Williams, Rob (5 August 2013). "Britain's biggest ever 'fatberg' - the size of a bus and weighing 15 tonnes - found in London drain". The Independent. 
  2. ^ Edwards, Jim. "Gross Photos Show Sewer Workers Battling A 'Fatberg' The Size Of A Boeing 747 Under London". Yahoo/Business Insider. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home". Channel 4. 
  4. ^ "Thames Water and 2OC in £200m deal to turn 'fatbergs' into energy". waterbriefing.org. 8 April 2013. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "New words in oxforddictionaries". Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  6. ^ 2013-08-06, Britain's biggest 'fatberg' removed from London sewer, BBC
  7. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt (March 13, 2015). "The Wet Wipes Box Says Flush, but the New York City Sewer System Says Don’t". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-03-13. The consummate cautionary tale is that of London, where in 2013 a collection of wipes, congealed cooking oil and other materials totaled 15 tons, according to Thames Water, the utility company that removed it. It was known, like some previous occurrences, as the fatberg. “We reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history,” Gordon Hailwood, an official with Thames Water, said at the time. 
  8. ^ 2014-09-01, Fatberg the size of a jumbo jet strikes central London: Eighty-metre mass of congealed fat and wet wipes under the streets of Shepherd's Bush took four DAYS to break up, Daily Mail UK
  9. ^ 2014-09-01, Enormous 'fatberg' the size of an AEROPLANE found blocking sewers in London, Mirror UK
  10. ^ 2014-09-03, Melbourne’s sewerage system clogged by fatberg, warns Yarra Valley Water, News.com.au
  11. ^ "'Fatberg' found blocking Cardiff sewer". BBC News. 2015-02-10. 
  12. ^ Ratclife, Rebecca (2015-04-21). "10-tonne fatberg removed from west London sewer". theguardian.com. Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Cox, Dan (2016-02-25). "Wet wipes blockage weighing a tonne pulled out of sewer pipe near Newcastle". 1233 ABC Newcastle. 
  14. ^ "'Monster' fatberg found blocking east London sewer". BBC News. 12 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.