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Public urged not to put food waste down the sink to prevent 'fatbergs' building up

Over €7 million is spent every year by Irish Water dealing with fatbergs in public pipes.

A fatberg found in Co Wicklow earlier this year
A fatberg found in Co Wicklow earlier this year
Image: Irish Water

IRISH WATER IS appealing to the public ahead of Easter not to put food waste, such as fats, oils and greases, down the sink to prevent pipe blockages known as “fatbergs”. 

Over €7 million is spent every year by Irish Water dealing with fatbergs in public pipes, according to the utility’s Tom Cuddy. 

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Cuddy said fatbergs are an “accumulation of debris that has travelled from people’s homes into the drains and down into the sewer”.

For example, fatbergs form when wet-wipes get flushed down toilets, leading fats, oil and grease to congeal together and gradually form a hard mass.

“Really what holds it all together are these fats, oils and greases that people have poured down the sink, unfortunately,” Cuddy said. 

He added that fatbergs have the same consistency as a bar of soap.

If a fatberg occurs in your home, Cuddy said “the first you’ll know about it is when your sink is backing up and perhaps there’s a covering lifting in the back garden or your neighbour’s back garden”. 

Irish Water deals with about 6,000 cases of fatbergs a year. 

“We have special machinery, essentially we have jetting and vacuum machinery, and basically we open up the manholes and put jetting rods, very high pressure power lines and they essentially break it up and suck it back,” Cuddy said, explaining how Irish Water removes the build-ups. 

Irish Water is now appealing to people not to put food waste down their sinks. 

“We want people not to put food waste down the sink and particularly to focus on fats, oils and greases. From a fry or from the roasting dish or gravy or sauces, all of those really should be put to one side,” Cuddy said. 

In March, an 8ft sewage blockage was cleared in Co Wicklow. 

It was the third blockage, also known as ragging, removed from the Bollarney Wastewater Pumping Station by Wicklow County Council staff in one day over that given weekend.

In January, a UK-based water company discovered a 64m fatberg blocking a sewer in south-western town of Sidmouth.

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