London sewer fatberg on its way to museum
Part of a 250-metre fatberg currently blocking a stretch of London’s sewer network could go on display to the public after the Museum of London expressed an interest in obtaining a section of the 130-tonne lump.
The museum, located in the City of London, has contacted Thames Water about acquiring part of the congealed block of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil following its discovery in a Victorian sewer in Whitechapel, east London.
Engineers for Thames Water are using shovels and high-powered jets to remove the fatberg, which was found during a routine inspection earlier this month, and is one of the largest ever found in London’s sewer network.
Alex Werner, a curator at the museum, said the fatberg called “to attention the way we live our lives in a modern city,” and said the museum had been interested in acquiring a fatberg after similar discoveries in Kingston and Leicester Square.
He said: “It speaks to the breakdown in London’s infrastructure as we transition between periods. The sewer dates back to the 19th century, and is struggling to cope with the number of high-rise developments and population increases. In 50 years time, maybe it will be looked on as a historic artefact, because we’ll have solved this problem.”
He added: “Our challenge is to think of a way to make it presentable to the public. We need to work out a way we can store it and display it. It’s a bit like a specimen – we need to find a kind of fluid to maintain it for a long time. We have a bit of research yet to do.”
Werner, who visited the site of the fatberg yesterday, said hiding it’s smell would be a challenge. “It’s a horrid smell – fairly pungent. It’s the smell you’d expect from the sewer. I’m back in my office now and I can still smell it around my nose.” Thames Water spends around £1m a month clearing blockages from its sewers.