Introduction: Fatberg Autopsy - Secrets of the Sewers (01:47)
Britain is experiencing a sewer-clogging epidemic of "fatbergs," comprised of human waste and congealed fat. Rick Edwards joins a forensic examination of part of the largest ever extracted.
Record Blockage (05:40)
Thames Water Flushers work in South Bank, removing a fatberg 2,460 feet long. They check gas levels before entering the sewer, concerned about potentially lethal hydrogen sulfide.
United Kingdom Epidemic (03:34)
The fatberg crisis is the worst in London; sewers are designed to accommodate half the current population. Thames Water Flushers assess the South Bank blockage; it is solid and must be dug out by hand. Extractors begin dismantling and removing pieces for examination.
Victorian Era Lab (05:18)
Flushers evacuate the sewer when a gas alarm detects hydrogen sulfide, but manage to send five tons of fatberg to mortician Carla Valentine. She prepares Abbey Mills Pumping Station to conduct the autopsy, hoping to gain insight into formation and molecular composition.
Fabtberg Content (03:21)
The autopsy team disassembles a trough of fatberg. Flushers hack it into small pieces, remove objects, then pass sifted materials to scientists for examination. Edwards notes the variety of items found.
First Scientific Analysis (02:11)
Chemists discover five fat types comprising the fatberg; cooking oils account for 90%. They explain how saponification accelerates the congealing process, solidifying blockages.
Sewer Inspection (04:37)
Edwards joins a Flusher in London's restaurant district to examine sewers. They stagnant sewage, a sign of blockage formation. They discuss ways of discouraging business owners from disposing grease down drains.
Hosting Lifeforms (02:35)
At Abbey Mills Pumping Station, scientists find microscopic worms and parasite eggs living in the fatberg. Chemist James Barker tests for pathogenic bacteria.
Toxicology Report (04:41)
Edwards assists Flushers with breaking up the fatberg. Dr. John Wilkinson uses mass spectrometry to look for chemicals. He finds large amounts of pharmaceuticals, including pain relievers and acne cream.
Misleading Labels (06:25)
The fatberg is dismantled; wet wipes are extracted in massive amounts. Andy Drinkwater of the Water Research Council tests products claiming to be flushable; polypropylene items stay intact indefinitely.
Bacterial Test Results (02:28)
Barker shares the outcome of pathogenic bacteria tests, finding listeria, campylobacter, and e-coli. Superbugs are also present.
Sewer Cleanup (02:49)
Edward revisits Flushers in South Bank. After two months, they continue removing the massive fatberg. They understand occupational health risks, and believe public education is necessary; removal costs £80 annually.
Credits: Fatberg Autopsy - Secrets of the Sewers (00:35)
Credits: Fatberg Autopsy - Secrets of the Sewers
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