Tell Me Your Burning Questions About Fatbergs!

Hi, Atlas community! I’m Jessica, a reporter at Atlas Obscura, and I’m obsessed with fatbergs—subterranean mounds of fats, oils, trash, and other gunk that plug up sewer pipes around the world. I like them so much that I’m heading to London soon to report on them, and I want your help.

I’ve written about fatbergs a bunch before, from what, exactly, they’re made out of, to how museums prepare chunks of them for display, to how cities vanquish them. But I want to hear from you: What do you want to know about fatbergs?

Share your burning fatberg questions, and I’ll do what I can to answer some of them when I talk to the experts. I may include a selection of the best questions and answers in an upcoming article. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Was Boris Johnson sired by a fatberg ? or did he just learn his politics from one ? and how can he be vanquished / flushed away ?

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Sounds like a South Park episode in the works.

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I’d like know if there’s any way that fatbergs could be used as energy sources.

Imagine: “This spaceship journey to the ISS was fuelled by fatbergs donated by the cities of Birmingham, Hamburg and Krakow!” or “Welcome to the Eurovision Song Contest! The electricity used during tonight’s show is brought to you thanks to cumulative continental fatberg power!

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Great question. Thanks for asking! Looking forward to digging into it.

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Heh! a Remainer . . .

Is there a possibility that fatbergs can preserve organic tissue? Have mummified rats ever been found inside of one, for example? I’m no chemistry expert, but I do know of several foods that basically preserve meat and vegetables in fat.

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and proud

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Dear Jessica,

I actually do have a question: is it okay to flush hair down the toilet? For example if one pulls a nest of hair out of the hair brush, you know what I mean? Will this nourish fatbergs?

PS: your illustration is just too lovely :grin:
PS II: since late 19th century there are various technologies available that help prevent the emergence of fatbergs: Grease trap - Wikipedia , so why does is still happen?

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I don’t know anything about fatbergs but the fact that someone is an expert in this area made me unexplainably satisfied

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1/ What is the progression of growth? Is it like a pearl with a bit of sand, or a snowball that has momentum, or like a beavers dam that just gets some blockage and keeps growing?
2/ Is there a particular type or brand of oil or grease that is worse? And does it depend upon the temperature in the pipes?
3/ Are clean up solutions exploring bacteria and phages? This would be similar to the science around “gut bacteria.”

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