Fatburg does dirty work for the council of Whakatane

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Monster Fatburgs found in a Whakatāne sewer will take days to clear and cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

The contractors used a claw hook attached to an excavator to remove the fatburg from the Victoria Avenue pumping station.
Photo: PROVIDED

What was supposed to be a one-day job on Wednesday will now run into next week, with Whakatane District Council staff finding that more than one fatburg was blocking the pumping station at the corner of Hinemoa Street and the ‘avenue Victoria.

Yesterday afternoon, contractors removed three cubic meters of smelly garbage, mostly made up of grease, grease, wet wipes and sanitary products.

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The work is deemed urgent, as the pumping station is struggling to cope with the blockage.

Three-water operations team leader Luke Shipton said a claw hook attached to a shovel was used to pull the sledgehammer out of the pumping station.

“This unexpected job will likely cost thousands of dollars to solve and is completely preventable,” he said.

“It’s a reminder to only rinse the three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper. Don’t throw out wet wipes, even ones that claim they are biodegradable, and don’t pour grease, grease, and oil down your sink.

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Cured grease and oil combine with other non-disposable things like wet wipes to make huge fatburgs and that’s what’s causing problems in your neighborhood. “

Shipton said the correct way to dispose of leftover fats and oils is to pour them into a container before putting it in the trash and wipe greasy pans with paper towels before washing dishes.

All non-disposable items were exactly that – non-disposable – and should be thrown in the trash, rather than the toilet, he said.

Shipton noted that most of the wet wipes contained plastic, as did many hygiene products and single-use diapers.

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“If we take these simple steps, we can reduce the need for future smelly and expensive clean-ups,” he said.

The Fatburgs have given councils around the world a headache and are no longer associated only with big cities.

In July last year, a sewer in Gisborne overflowed after heavy rains due to a fatburg blocking pipes.

This fatburg was 15 meters long, weighed half a ton, and consisted of grease, rags, wet wipes and condoms.

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest information service supported by RNZ, the Association of News Publishers and NZ On Air.

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