The Whitechapel fatberg - a 250m-long, 130 tonne mass of congealed waste - “deserves a second chance”, says Thames Water’s waste network manager, Alex Saunders.
So the company is going to covert the congealed mess, which weighs the same as 11 double-decker buses into 10,000 litres of biodiesel - enough to fuel a Routemaster for an entire year.
Engineers are still working in the sewers under Whitechapel Road in east London to remove the “extreme rock-solid mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil” that was discovered earlier this month.
An eight-strong team began work on the fatberg last week using high-powered jet hoses to break it up before sucking it out with tankers. On average, 20 to 30 tonnes is being removed per eight-hour shift which are continuing seven days a week, Thames Water said.
“It’s basically like trying to break up concrete,“Thames Water’s head of waste networks, Matt Rimmer previously explained.
“It’s frustrating as these situations are totally avoidable and caused by fat, oil and grease being washed down sinks and wipes flushed down the loo.”
Thames Water expects to finish the job in October. The leftovers will then be sent to a specialist plant where elements of it will be transformed into the green diesel alternative.
Waste network manager Alex Saunders said: “It may be a monster, but the Whitechapel fatberg deserves a second chance.
“We’ve therefore teamed up with leading waste to power firm Argent Energy to transform what was once an evil, gut-wrenching, rancid blob into pure green fuel.
“It’s the perfect solution for the environment and our customers as we work towards our target to self-generate 33 per cent of the electricity we use from renewable sources by 2020.
“It also means the Whitechapel fatberg will get a new lease of life as renewable, biodegradable fuel powering an engine instead of causing the misery of sewer flooding.”
The fatberg is more than 10 times bigger than the one in Kingston in 2013 which made national headlines.
Thames Water spends about £1 million a month clearing blockages from its sewers and Rimmer urged people to think before they flush things down the toilet: “The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish.”