back to article Reg Standards Bureau introduces the Devon fatberg as coastal town menaced by oily blob

As if Brexit chaos wasn't enough to bring us down after the festive season's indulgence, South West Water has brought word of a new fatberg in town. The latest mass of hardened fat, oil, wet-wipes, condoms and other filth congealing under our fair isle was discovered lurking below the streets of Sidmouth, a charming tourist …

  1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    If you prefer astronomical units(*)

    it's 2 femtoparsecs.

    (*) On the grounds the only good news at the moment seems to be space related.

  2. Semtex451 Silver badge

    Look out for jars of Devon goose fat next Christmas

    1. confused and dazed

      I think I'd be more concerned about this summer's clotted cream sales .... jam first ... or condom ?

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Pirate

        Jam first - obviously....

        I'm off wreckin' - yarrrgh -->

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Stop

          Who let that Cornish person across the Tamar.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            WE DEMAND A WALL!!! AND MAKE THE CORNISH PAY FOR IT!!!!1!!1!!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              WE DEMAND A WALL!!! AND MAKE THE CORNISH PAY FOR IT!!!!1!!1!!

              Do that, and they'll do silly stuff like hold a referendum to split off from the UK and remain in the EU

  3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Now I'm curious

    This means the Devon fatberg is more accurately described as being the length of 457.14 linguine (unboiled at sea level), or 2.91 Brontosauruses.

    So is there a conversion formula for boiled vs raw Brontosaurus by altitude?

    I'm also thinking one way to discourage sewer abusers would be to work out how many addresses were served by that pipe. Then carve it up based on rateable value and deliver. Possibly with jumbo-sized portions to fast-food outlets. Downside might be if the fat's then recycled.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Can I get a tutor?

    how many Bulgarian Air Bags would fit inside? I can't find the old article with the measurement!

    Maybe Paris knows?

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Can I get a tutor?

      Oh you boob...

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Can I get a tutor?

        Suitably bookmarked for just these sort of situations.

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

        1. chivo243 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Can I get a tutor?

          @1The Oncoming Scorn

          +1

          Thanks for the link!

  5. AndrueC Silver badge
    Happy

    When I was a callow youth I once cycled from Exeter to Sidmouth. Not too bad a journey really with a wonderfully long free wheel down to the beach. Of course going home that wonderfully long free wheel turned into a bit of an arse :-/

    This escapade can be dated by the fact I went there to see DevonAir doing an OB event :)

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Alert

      Callow Youth

      Now imagine going up Sidmouth Hill (From Newton Poppleford) towards Sidmouth in a Isseta (Bubble car) in the 60's.

      I don't have to as father tried to drive his up the hill & failed blocking the road & requiring a three point turn (No reverse gear on those things, so had to be helped by other drivers to turn it about) 2/3rds of the way up the hill.

      I was in the middle of the bench seat twixt Mum & Dad not sure if my sister was also present in her carry cot on the parcel shelf.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Callow Youth

        No reverse gear on those things [Bubble cars], so had to be helped by other drivers to turn it about

        When I was in Junior School one of the teachers had a Bubble car, and one day parked it far too close to a wall. We had great fun pretending not to understand that he wanted us to push it backwards so he could open the door - "Sorry Sir, can't hear what you're saying in there".

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Callow Youth

          More people died by driving them into their garages...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Callow Youth

        "I don't have to as father tried to drive his up the hill & failed blocking the road & requiring a three point turn (No reverse gear on those things, so had to be helped by other drivers to turn it about) 2/3rds of the way up the hill."

        Not as bad as that, but back in the late 60's I remember a holiday trip that involved mum and three kids (me being one of them) walking up a hill carrying the holiday luggage while dad eventually managed to get the Moggie 1000 up the hill with all our excess weight removed.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sewers with a healthy lifestyle

    Now, if we could get each person to pour a protein shake down the sink for a week....the fat will surely reduce.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Sewers with a healthy lifestyle

      Wheres the Adipose when you need them.

  7. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Theresa May's fault...

    We should sewer...

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    But seriously though...

    They always say 'don't pour oil down the sink' - okay, but what they hell do we do with half a bottle of well-out-of-date rapeseed oil? Round here we have food waste recycling - which involves putting it in plastic bags. Not sure that will be too effective for liquids.

    Save it up for Nov 5th? Or the post-revocation-of-article-50 bonfire of the Brexiters?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But seriously though...

      They always say 'don't pour oil down the sink' - okay, but what they hell do we do with half a bottle of well-out-of-date rapeseed oil?

      Landfill's fine, or (increasingly common due to landfill tax) incineration in a EfW or CHP plant actually gets a small chunk of the energy content out. It'll also compost quite well in commercial scale composters, but much less desirable in domestic composting.

      But there's something going on here that needs an explanation. Back in the 1990s I worked for a water and sewerage company for a good few years, and I prided myself on being close to the operations and technology side, actually getting involved with the operations side. And we had occasional fat problems, but not this plague of fatbergs we see reported now.

      1. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: But seriously though...

        It might be the "flush-able" wipes they are trying so hard to everyone they need. Turn the blob into fiberglass like mass.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: But seriously though...

          It might be the "flush-able" wipes

          Maybe, but but they were around in the '90s, and the lignin fibres in bog roll have always made their way through the sewerage system. I suspect that there's some confluence of factors, involving that but notably compounded by low temperature clothes washes, efforts to reduce detergent "over use", and crappy, ineffective eco-detergents.

          I'm sure the eco-detergents and low temp washes save energy at point of use, if you factor in the vast effort to clear a fatberg, maybe they weren't such a good idea.

          1. Trixr Bronze badge

            Re: But seriously though...

            But so-called "flushable wipes" are not the same as bog roll and don't break down. The base material is "air-laid paper" that only has 85% fibre content and has binders added to get the material to actually form a sheet (activated by heat).

            Of course, chucking down fat into the sewerage system is a huge problem in itself, but I think these products should be marked as NON-flushable by law. Manufacturers in Australia have been fined for making false claims that they break down like TP.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: But seriously though...

              It's kind of like pykrete, but made of poop. Poopkrete.

              1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                Re: But seriously though...

                Poopkrete.

                Yeah, I've laid one or two of those. They hit the water like a bomb from 20,000 feet, once you can finally get them out.

            2. tiggity Silver badge

              Re: But seriously though...

              Most fatberg blame is applied to various wipes (be they face, lower regions or whatever wipes) that people flush away without really being aware they do not easily break down like "classic" loo roll.

              I'm sure inspections (or lack of them) do not help, but widespread use of long sewer lifetime wipes is regarded as key issue - look at some of the fatberg images (including cross sections) - an awful lot of wipes in there.

              Wipes labelled "flushable" in 2018 did not break down when tested by water companies sewer trip simulation tests (less agressive than tests teh manufactuers use) (doubt much has improved since 2018) - and those wipes really ought to be labelled not flushable (in huge letters that take up most of the packaging)

              1. MyffyW Silver badge

                Re: But seriously though...

                @tiggity I think Viz had a solution for poor toilet etiquette:

                "Bottom Inspectors: Have you wiped properly"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But seriously though...

        Cost of disposal for small operators leads to dodgy disposal

        * Frinton Mews open sewer drain just off Gant's Hill station (cough cough) *

      3. dfsmith

        Re: But seriously though...

        Well, the size of the fat blobs will be inversely proportional to the inverse of the sewer inspection period, give or take a power/logarithm. How often does SWW send a guy down there, compared with the '90s? I'm guessing it takes at least a decafortnight or two to make a 340-govt-standard-Welsh-dresser fatberg.

      4. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Re: Back in the 90s

        Back in the 90s the water companies were still either publicly-owned, or newly-privatised.

        I would not be surprised if at some point in the last twenty years a bean counter has worked out that shareholder value can be increased by decreasing the frequency of routine inspections.

    2. cosymart
      Childcatcher

      Re: But seriously though...

      My father-in-law used to have a proper garage where people could take their cars and get them fixed unlike the garage of today where the "technicians" just plug them into a laptop and read the output and follow the instructions... In the aforesaid garage there was an oil fired space heater that was designed to take waste engine oil but would quite happily consume any other oil you cared to feed it. There are no documented comments/reactions from the local populace as to the smell of the noxious gasses produced by the heater vent/chimney :-)

    3. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: But seriously though...

      "...what they hell do we do with half a bottle of well-out-of-date rapeseed oil? "

      Stick a wick in it and make an emergency oil lamp?

      Do you drive a diesel? Toss it in the tank; used rapeseed oil is commonly used as biodiesel.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: But seriously though...

      "what they hell do we do with half a bottle of well-out-of-date rapeseed oil?"

      Keep it. There'll be a shortage post-Brexit. You'll probably end up boiling it with alkali (wood ash will do) to make soap.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: But seriously though...

        And only use wood ash from apple or oak, unless you want the soap to turn your face grey.

  9. Sizzles

    Surely 1440U (210ft) is a measurement we can all agree as a "standard" for The Register? I'd love to suggest a measurement based on the height of the pint glass, but that rather depends on your choice of beer.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Fosters

      ... just kidding. We only export that to you lot because we don't drink it. Mainly because it tastes like s*!?*

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Fosters

        " We only export that to you lot because we don't drink it."

        Australians enjoy Fosters - by watching other people drink it.

        1. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

          Re: Fosters

          Beer so bad we sell it to Americans

      2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: Fosters

        Ah-h-h-h-h-h... Fosters! I remember back in the day when it first came commonly available in the States that you'd get the occasional frat-boy or other slope-neck who was used to chugging, say, a Budweiser and then smashing the can on his forehead try to show off his studliness by doing the same with a Fosters oilcan.

        It generally ended about the way you (but apparently not HE!) would expect.

        Funny as hell seeing a guy walking around campus on a Monday morning with huge bruise-ring on his forehead, though!

  10. spold Bronze badge

    Proper fat units please...

    How big is this in megawobbles?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Legionary13

    Disposals wanted

    As South West Water are organised to deal with fatbergs, might they please deal with Boris Johnson? There is at least one too many in the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Disposals wanted

      Out of their regulated service area. Suggest you call Thames Water.

  13. PhilipN Silver badge

    Close to the sea?

    You mean - that is where the pipe is aiming and where its (usual) contents will go?

    Point 1 - Urggh.

    Point 2 - Can we have more fatbergs please.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Close to the sea?

      Well considering the usual fare on the menu of the Blackpools and Cleethorpes of the nation... this really IS a shocker.

  14. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Headmaster

    In an Eton Mess Age, a Boris Spider is Sure to Pontificate and Venture

    You say 2.91 Brontosauruses ..... they say 2.91 Brontosauri.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: In an Eton Mess Age, a Boris Spider is Sure to Pontificate and Venture

      Brontosaurus has Greek roots, so brontosauruses is the correct plural.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: In an Eton Mess Age, a Boris Spider is Sure to Pontificate and Venture

        Are you not thinking of Stavrososaurus?

  15. TRT Silver badge
    IT Angle

    What's the IT angle?

    That there lilo.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SWW: "we caught it just in time"

    SWW: "we caught it just in time"

    No! You allowed it to grow to the size of 2.91 Brontosauruses, taller than the leaning tower of Pisa, longer than a jumbo jet... 'just in time' was a long time ago, well before it got into the next Guinness Book of Record Turds

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On a sort of an IT angle.....

    .....any one used the calculator app that comes with Windows 10 for conversions?

    For things like length, it will use units such as Jet engines....

  18. paulf Silver badge
    Joke

    Cost to water bills

    "South West Water pointed out that tackling one new sewer blockages every hour added £4.5m to people's bills each year."

    My mum won't be best pleased to hear that as her bill is already £87m/year!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As if Brexit chaos wasn't enough to bring us down after the festive season's indulgence

    Shoehorning the word "Brexit" into the first sentence of an article that has absolutely nothing to do with the referendum isn't exactly helping to keep the spirit of the festive season alive, either. Was that the point?

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