West Aussies created the worst ‘fatbergs’ in years during the 2020 lockdown, costing millions to clear, according to the Water Corporation.
Fatbergs are huge solid globs made up of oil and grease that’s been poured down the drain or loo, congealing around other non-biodegradable waste that’s been flushed, like tampons, condoms and – the biggest offender of all – baby wipes.
Over time, these slimy snowballs accumulate to block drains, causing sewerage spills.
Make no mistake, these things can get HUGE, the Water Corporation’s Clare Lugar told the ABC they’ve had to bring in cranes to dislodge these things to be taken away to landfill. WTF.
“I’ve seen some in other wastewater systems around the world as big as a bus.”
And it seems that being stuck at home and being faced with empty supermarket shelves from panic-buying (leading to flushing loo paper ‘alternatives’ instead of binning them) have contributed to having our biggest fatberg problem in years.
Ms Lugar said there had been spikes in blockages between February and May last year while WA was in lockdown.
“We certainly noticed that during that period… we did see that spike in blockages caused by things like wet wipes, sanitary products and things like that being flushed down the loo,” she said.
“When at work people may have put those items in a special bin — usually in the workplace [there are] bins to put those things in there and they’re taken away and disposed of.
“I think with people being at home they may have been unsure what to do and probably put more of those things down the loo.”
Wet toilet wipes may say “flushable”, but Ms Lugar said that was misleading as they don’t break down in the wastewater system.
“Pop them in the bin instead of flushing them,” she said.