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Baltmore Is Latest City To Sing Fatberg Blues

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Before you wash that pan of bacon grease down your kitchen sink or flush a wet wipe down your toilet, we want you to say to yourself one word - fatberg. It's like iceberg but fatberg.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

That is what civil engineers call buildups in pipes of congealed fat and household waste. Think diapers, sanitary products but primarily wipes. This week in Baltimore, workers broke up a big fatberg in a midtown sewage pipe.

JEFFREY RAYMOND: It was a good chunk of a city block.

SHAPIRO: That's Jeffrey Raymond. He's with the city's Department of Public Works.

RAYMOND: It was caked to the sides of this pipe to the point where water was having a real hard time getting through.

SHAPIRO: Fatbergs have clogged up other cities, most famously London, where last month crews took on 130-ton fatberg.

KELLY: Meanwhile, in Baltimore, they had to deploy a high-pressure water jet, a scraping device and a vacuum truck to remove the fatberg there. Raymond says there is an easier approach.

RAYMOND: Don't treat your toilet like a trash can.

SHAPIRO: There is some controversy to this story, namely wipes.

RAYMOND: There's some back and forth in the industry as to what wipes are flushable, what wipes are not flushable. We, for the record, try to keep it simple. It's poo. It's pee. And it's toilet paper. If it's not 1 of those 3, it doesn't go down a toilet.

KELLY: And again, when you're cooking. Think about it. Pro-tip - grease hardens. Don't pour it in your pipes, please.

(SOUNDBITE OF FREELANCE WHALES' "LOCATION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.