Belfast Telegraph

Newry fatberg: Drain blockage at Buttercrane shopping centre takes five hours to clear

A huge lump of solidified fats blocked drains at a Newry shopping centre to such an extent that it took a work crew five hours to clear it.

NI Water are publicising the incident at Buttercrane Quay in Newry  to highlight the problems caused when fats, oil and grease are poured down drains.

Jim McElrath, Wastewater Area Manager for the area explains: "Fat, Oil and Grease (FOG) when poured down the drain, solidify and can cause serious blockages. Mix that with the usual rubbish we find down there such as baby wipes and sanitary items and you have a recipe for disaster.  Blockages such as these often result in out of sewer flooding.

“FOG in its liquid form may not look harmful, but it becomes a major problem once in our drains. Even when hot water or soap is poured down the sink, the fat, oil and grease will still harden. Detergents and bleach may also appear to work, but this is only temporary."

NI Water is appealing to the public to dispose of their FOG appropriately by either letting it cool and then scraping it into a bin or by pouring it into a disposable container and take it to a local oil bank.

Mr McElrath also reminded business owners that not disposing of oils properly, "risk blocking their own drainage systems, which results in extra costs being incurred in clean-up efforts. These fat blockages can not only result in out of sewer flooding, but odour problems and the risk of rat infestations both near and beyond your premises. Ways to dispose of FOG include fitting a grease trap, using an enzyme dosing system or recycling it." 

In the last two years, NI Water has spent over £5 million clearing blockages from the sewer system for which 70-80% are caused by FOG and inappropriate items.

A leaflet detailing everything which should be binned and not flushed can be found at niwater.com.

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