Massive London 'fatberg' to be turned into museum exhibit

Story highlights

  • 800-foot long 'fatberg' found under London
  • Most was turned into biodiesel
  • Fragments will become museum exhibit

(CNN)What used to be a disgusting subterranean mass of congealed waste -- also known as a fatberg -- will soon be on display at a London museum.

The peculiar exhibit is but a fragment of one of the largest such objects ever found, measuring 820 feet long and weighing 130 tons, as much as 11 double-decker buses. It was removed last year from the sewers underneath the East London district of Whitechapel, after it caused a severe blockage.
    "It will be displayed in a sealed unit," said Sharon Robison, head of conservation at the Museum of London.
      "It's been in quarantine for a total of around nine weeks already and we'll undertake some more scientific analysis before the exhibition."

      The Whitechapel monster

      Fatbergs (the word is a portmanteau of fat and iceberg) form over time as items such as wet wipes, nappies, condoms, sanitary products and various types of greases and oils are flushed or washed down drains instead of disposed correctly.
      Thames Water, which operates the water system in London, says it spends £1 million a month, or nearly $1.4 million, to clear blockages of this kind. To reduce their occurrence, it has started a campaign called "Bin it - don't block it" to educate the public on which items should be discarded as regular garbage rather than flushed down the toilet.
      The Whitechapel sewer during removal of the fatberg
      The worst offenders are cooking oils and fats -- coming mostly from restaurants and other food outlets -- and wet wipes, which are often marketed as "flushable." But unlike toilet paper, these wipes take years to break down as they often contain plastic, and shouldn't be flushed at all