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Whitechapel sewer fatberg may soon get place in Museum of London archive

PUBLISHED: 17:36 25 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:40 25 June 2018

The last remaining piece of the toxic Whitechapel fatberg at Museum of London sealed up in special display cabinet. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

The last remaining piece of the toxic Whitechapel fatberg at Museum of London sealed up in special display cabinet. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

David Parry

Museum curators are deciding the fate of the infamous ‘Whitechapel fatberg’ and considering acquiring the toxic sewage as a permanent artefact.

Monster fatberg first discovered under Whitechapel Road in September, 2017. Picture source: Thames WaterMonster fatberg first discovered under Whitechapel Road in September, 2017. Picture source: Thames Water

It took Thames Water engineers three weeks to clear the 800ft long build-up of wet wipes, nappies, cooking fat and oil under the Whitechapel Road—said to be one of the largest fatbergs ever found in London.

A piece of the rock-solid mass that blocked the sewer was put on public display at the Museum of London last September, which finishes on Saturday.

Now the museum, within sniffing distance of St Paul’s, want to give the toxic Whitechapel fatberg a permanent place in the archives, the first time anybody has ever tried to preserve one from the London sewers.

A live experiment has been carried out since going on display in February, with conservators monitoring its behaviour such as hatching flies, changing colour and even sweating.

Thames Water engineer geared up to go down into sewer under Whitechapel Road to tackle monster fatberg, September 2017. Picture: Thames WaterThames Water engineer geared up to go down into sewer under Whitechapel Road to tackle monster fatberg, September 2017. Picture: Thames Water

It weighed a staggering 130 tonnes—the same as 11 double decker buses—when it was first discovered blocking a stretch of Whitechapel’s ageing Victorian sewer more than twice the length of the Wembley pitch.

“This fatberg is up there with the biggest we’ve ever seen,” Thames Water’s Matt Rimmer said at the time. “It’s a total monster taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove, as it has set hard like concrete.”

His engineers had to use high-powered jet hoses working seven days a week to break up the mass before suction tankers could draw it out for disposal at a recycling site in Stratford.

But what surprised everyone was the public curiosity to see what at fatberg looked like, which has probably earned it a place in the permanent museum archives.

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