Andy Serkis stars as talking anus in anti-fatberg PSA

Here's a little public service announcement with a lot to unpack. Fatbergs are horrifying agglomerations of grease, excrement and fiber clogging the waterworks beneath our cities. Britain's ancient sewers seem especially vulnerable, providing an endless stream of "thousand-foot fatberg removed" stories, complete with nightmarish footage of yet another London lard shoggoth. Flushed wet-wipes are a key cause of the problem, as they do not break down and instead become fatberg rebar.

Hence the need for Andy Serkis to play a talking anus in an anti-fatberg PSA, begging Britons to stop flushing wet-wipes. Read the rest

Latest fatberg news

Two "giant" fatbergs were removed last week from the sewers of St. Andrews, Scotland, reports the BBC. 20 tonnes (22 tons) of congealed grease, sewage and toilet paper had to be broken down, and Fife authorities embarked upon an educational campaign to get locals to stop pouring cooking fat down the drain.

Mike Will, waste water operations general manager at Scottish Water, said that businesses had collectively spent about £500,000 fitting new grease trapping equipment.

Philip Soden, managing director of ECAS, added: "Most people simply didn't realise their own actions could potentially lead to sewer flooding, causing irreparable damage to their own community.

A fatberg near Cincinatti caused an overflow, report local media, with "odor and discoloration" shutting down Winston Lake.

The overflow in Winton Woods was caused by a so-called fatberg, a large, solid blockage that forms inside a sewer system. This one was made of grease, wipes and other waste that wedged into spaces between tree roots, clogging the sewer. The fatberg was about 15 inches in diameter and 2 feet wide.

Valencia, Spain, became home to a fatberg that sent sewer workers on a nightmare operation compared by Valencia Plaza (English, ish) to the movie "Alien."

It all started one day when they realized that "something was not working well," says [Sanitation Engineer Jesus] Ceniceros. During the routine review mentioned they discovered that "there was a sewage relief to the old Turia channel" from this collector. It did not make sense, since these reliefs can only occur in case of heavy rains and that was not the case.

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64-meter fatberg lurks beneath English seaside resort

Fatbergs -- vast agglomerations of human waste, toilet paper, sanitary products and general filth held together by fat -- are often found in the sewers of major cities such as London. But a 64-meter monster now lurks under Sidmouth, a cosy English seaside resort on the Devon coast. [via]

South West Water (SWW) said the fatberg was the biggest it had found and it would take about eight weeks to remove. The firm's director of wastewater said he was thankful it was discovered "in good time" with "no risk" to the quality of sea bathing waters. Andrew Roantree said the discovery showed fatbergs were not only found in the UK's biggest cities, "but right here in our coastal towns". At 210ft, it is longer than the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, longer than a Boeing 747SP (185ft), and more than twice as long as a tennis court, (78ft).

The BBC points out that it is exactly as disgusting as you think. Does the fatberg smell?

Your imagination is correct. This is a huge congealed mass of fat, rubbish and anything that people flush down the toilet, whether it's meant to be flushed or not.

Southwest Water has asked residents not to feed the fatberg. Read the rest

London demonstrates the stupid, janky future of Smart Cities

Bruce Sterling's scathing editorial in The Atlantic on the future of "Smart Cities" uses London's many smart city initiatives as a kind of measuring stick for the janky and dysfunctional future of civic automation: a city that throws great smart city conferences while its actual infrastructure is a mess of "empty skyscrapers, creepy CCTV videocams, and sewers plugged with animal fat" that require decades of planning an attention to cope with -- significantly beyond the attention spans of any of the tech giants vying to be the smart city providers of the future. Read the rest

There's an 820-foot-long fatberg clogging an east London sewer

The latest fatberg (a hardened mass of condoms, nappies, wet wipes, fat, and other things that people insist on flushing down their toilets) (previously) to clog London's sewers is the Whitechapel whale, measuring 820 feet long, weighing 130 metric tonnes (as much as 11 double-decker buses) (this is a standard measure of fatbergs). Read the rest