London has been suffering from fatbergs for years. This collection of discarded materials that clog-up the London sewers are usually destroyed to restore flow in the sewer system. The Museum of London was able to convince authorities to save a chunk of the 130-ton fatberg from that plagued London in September 2017.
This mass is now on display at the museum.
London's September 2017 fatberg was massive - the mass weighed 130 tons and was 820-feet thick. Workers had to work with high-pressure hoses and pickaxes to remove the congealed mass from the sewers. It took them nine weeks to completely remove it all.
Thames Water, the company responsible for London's wastewater, saved the chunk of the fatberg. In order to be preserved, it was dried for seven weeks into a solid form. Making up the mass are congealed fat, condoms, oil, hair, wet wipes, and anything that could be flushed down a toilet.
Included in the five-month exhibition of the fatberg will be a hazmat suit and equipment that were used by Thames Water workers to remove the fatberg. After breaking up the fatberg it was converted to biofuels.
Fatbergs aren't a problem that only London is fighting against. Cities all over the world are contending with the gigantic congealed messes clogging sewer systems, ruining pipes, and costing money to fix again.
Museums workers still aren't sure what will happen to the fatberg. It broke up when it was put on display. Museum curator Vyki Sparkes says she isn't sure whether the fatberg will survive the entire five months of the exhibition. Adding that it may turn into a pile of dust before the end.
To display it, the fatberg had to be air dried to make it more stable. Curators were also afraid of disease that may be obtained from the fatberg, it could have E-coli or Weil's disease, which is found in rat feces.
One of the reasons for the increase in fatbergs found in the sewer system has been the rise of the practice of using wet wipes instead of toilet paper. What was once a product relegated to changing baby diapers, they're now being used for adults and then discarded by being flushed away.
Problems arise when these "flushable" wipes don't dissolve and begin clogging sewer systems. Thames Water recommends that only the "three Ps" should be flushed - poo, pee, and toilet paper. Cities like New York have been telling residents not to flush any wipes down the toilet, despite the flushable label.
The fatberg will be on display until July 1.