A record-breaking ‘concreteberg’ weighing around 105 tonnes have blocked a Victorian sewer in London.
Thames Water is gearing up to remove the rock-hard mass – the biggest the company has even seen – at the junction of Gosling Road and Hall Street in Islington, which is likely to cause traffic disruption for at least the next two months.
The blockage, caused by people pouring concrete into the sewers, is thought to be at least 100 metres long and as heavy as a blue whale.
Tankers are on standby to pump out waste 24 hours a day to protect the environment and ensure nearby properties and businesses are not flooded with sewage.
The water company says it could cost “at least several hundred thousand pounds” to clear the blockage using a range of cutting tools, including jackhammer pneumatic drills and high-pressure jets.
Thames Water, which serves 15 million people across London and the Thames Valley, said it spends around £18 million every year to clear blockages from its sewers.
Operations Manager Alex Saunders added: “Normally blockages are caused by fat, oil and wet wipes building up in the sewer but unfortunately in this case it’s rock hard concrete. It’s in there and set to the Victorian brickwork, so we need to chip away at it to get it removed.
“This is not the first time damage has been caused by people pouring concrete into our sewers but it’s certainly the worst we’ve seen. It’s very frustrating and takes a great amount of time and effort to resolve. We’re now doing everything we can to deal with it as quickly as possible, making sure our customers don’t have to suffer because of this mindless abuse of our network.”
The water company previously pledged to increase monitoring of its network as part of its business plan for 2020/25 using up to 200,000 new sewer depth digital monitors and proposed to reduce pollution by 30%