United Utilities is sending a special team into Liverpool city centre to work with food outlets on the dangers of pouring oil into the sewers following the discovery of a 400-tonne fatberg in 2019. Tony McDonough reports
United Utilities is sending a “crack crew” into Liverpool city centre to fight the threat of ‘fatbergs’ clogging up the city’s sewers.
Last year the North West’s biggest ever fatberg was discovered lurking underground in a Liverpool sewer. The 400-tonne, 250 metre-long lump wouldn’t budge with traditional high powered water jets and had to be hacked out at a cost of around £100,000.
As the city centre’s cafes and restaurants welcome back customers following the COVID-19 lockdown, a team of expert fat, oil and grease busters will be pounding the streets of Liverpool in an attempt to put the city’s sewers on a strict diet and stop fats, oils and grease (FOG) being washed down their drains.
United Utilities has created the team to work in partnership with restaurants, takeaways and other food outlets to provide recommendations, deliver training on processes, offer advice on what equipment to use and install and provide guidance on how to remain compliant with waste disposal regulations.
The company’s Andrew Peet said: “The consequences of pouring oil and grease down the drain can be huge. It can cause flooding to properties and roads and pollute rivers, as well as impacting bathing waters.
“The benefit of us taking this proactive approach to FOG disposal is to try to prevent blockages occurring in the first place. We work closely with communities in the North West, through projects with schools, businesses and customers, to keep them informed about how we can avoid floods and fatbergs.”
Each year United Utilities tackles around 28,000 blockages in the sewers costing around £10m to clear. Blockages can cause untreated sewage to run into homes, gardens, streets, rivers, the sea and onto beaches.
The sewer system is only designed for water, toilet paper and human waste to flow through and not the increasing volume of fat and other items such as wet wipes. In its ‘Think before you pour’ campaign, the water firm urges all customers to do their bit and make sure they dispose of FOG correctly.