The Fatberg at the Michigan Science Center

Jan 15, 2020


In 2018, sewer crews in Macomb County, Michigan, made a new enemy: An enormous fatberg gumming up the pipes just north of the Clintondale Pump Station in Clinton Township. The behemoth—made from fats, oils, grease, and trash flushed down local toilets—stretched 100 feet long and 11 feet wide. Before the gloopy beast dried out—when it was still wet and juicy—it was roughly the size of two school buses. As of December 2019, a sliver of the fatberg has a new home: A much-less-smelly display at the Michigan Science Center.

The fatberg sample is displayed in a case that looks like a cross between a cylindrical sewer and a clear glass test tube. The sample resembles chunks of plaster and chalk—but ones that are dingy white, sooty gray, or phlegmy yellow, and flecked with trash. Look closely, and you’ll find syringes, tampon applicators, candy wrappers, and other bits of detritus that should never have been flushed down the toilet in the first place.

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