Fat-busting bugs sent to clear blocked sewers

TRILLIONS of fat-busting bugs are being deployed in Halifax’s sewers to get rid of fat blockages and prevent pollution.

The innovative and environmentally-friendly treatment process is being targeted at 180 known hot-spots around the region where build-ups of fat, oils and greases are causing repeated problems.

It works by mixing organically-grown bacillus bacteria – commonly found in the human gut and which feasts on fat, oils and grease – with non-chlorinated water and pouring the combination into the sewer.

Yorkshire Water says cooking fat, oils and grease get into the sewer from household drains, usually via the kitchen sink and dishwashers. Over time, these substances build up on the inside of the sewer pipe and harden, reducing the flow capacity of the pipe and causing blockages.

In the worst case scenario, these blockages can lead to sewers flooding people’s homes and the environment.

So far this year, Yorkshire Water has removed more than 18,000 blockages from its 54,000km sewer network. Around 37 per cent of those blockages were caused by people pouring fat, oil or grease down the sink or flushing baby wipes, sanitary items or nappies down the toilet – at a cost of more than £2 million.

The total amount of fat, oil and grease removed by the company from its sewers so far this year is estimated to be in the region of 2,000 tonnes – equivalent to the weight of 250 empty double decker buses or 400 average-sized adult African elephants.

Patrick Killgallon, pollution manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Having your home filled with waste from your toilet and indeed your sink is a very unpleasant experience which no one should ever have to suffer, which is why we work hard to encourage people to think twice before they pour left-over fat down the plug hole or flush the odd make-up wipe down the toilet.

“The deployment of fat-busting bugs in our sewer network is an example of this, with these ‘good’ bacteria feasting on solidified fat in our sewer. And because these bacteria constantly multiply in the right environment, we can leave them to get on with their job in our sewers, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

“We’re confident their introduction will significantly reduce fat, oils and grease blockages, ensuring waste water from homes and businesses can flow freely to our sewage works to be recycled properly before returning to the environment.”