An autopsy of London’s huge fatberg finds it contains potentially deadly bacteria

A big fat problem.
A big fat problem.
Image: Channel 4 via Thames Water
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This post has been updated to further clarify the difference between two of the cited fatbergs found in London.

London has a fatberg problem.

Since the specimen was discovered near the South Bank in London, the utilities company Thames Water and Channel 4 teamed up to analyze what is in it and if it poses a threat to the capital. After all, that disgusting mass is bigger than the Whitechapel fatberg, which was previously believed to be a record-breaking specimen at 250 meters (820 ft) long and weighing 130 metric tons (143 tons). That’s longer than Tower Bridge and weighs the same as two Airbus A318 aircrafts.

Scientists on the TV program Fatberg Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers, which airs today (April 24), analyzed five metric tons of the monstrous lump, to see what was clogging the water system.

They found that it is made up of the usual suspects of any fatberg—everything from wipes to condoms to diapers. Cooking oil comprises 90% of the mass. Their analysis also showed that street drugs, such as cocaine and MDMA, are present but at much lower concentrations than prohibited gym supplements. But, most worryingly, the autopsy found that the supersized fatberg contains bacteria, including listeria and E. coli, some of which can be potentially deadly and resistant to antibiotics.

A spokesperson for Thames Water said that the utilities company hopes the show will attract a large audience so people will “think twice about what they flush away in future.”