A new awareness campaign from Utilities Kingston includes a YouTube video showing just how challenging it can be for workers to clear out hardened fat, oils, and grease, known as FOG, that can create sewage blockages or even fatbergs.
Cooking oil, butter and margarine, meat fats, salad dressings, sauces, and gravies are all types of fats, oils and greases, and Utilities Kingston is working hard to remind Kingston residents and businesses that someone has to climb down into a confined space to clear blockages that may be created by FOG substances.
“Residents and restaurant operators may not be aware of the problem with pouring cooking grease down the sink,” says Julie Runions, manager of Water and Wastewater Treatment, in a media statement. “These liquids will solidify in sewer pipes and can build up to create sewer clogs and even a sewer back-up in your home or restaurant. Protect your pipes and the health and safety of workers: review this information to know what to do instead.”
Utilities Kingston provides free FOG cups that can be filled with fats and oils, stored away until full, then emptied into the green bin. Although any compostable container on hand could be used.
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While Kingston workers are not facing any recent spike in fatbergs, the utility says it’s always looking for ways to keep reminding residents about proper disposal practices. The video of the worker knee-deep in murky wastewater is intended to bring home the very real consequences of dumping FOG substances down the drain.
The utility suggests wiping greasy plates or dishes with paper napkins or paper towels and then putting those items into the green bin.
Sewer Safety Week
Utilities Kingston supported another awareness campaign recently, as it joined forces with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, Kitchener Utilities, Ontario One Call, and Enbridge Gas to recognize September 18 to 22 as Sewer Safety Week.
If a blockage is within a residential home, the coalition encourages people to call a licensed plumber to safely remove it. But, if the blockage is outside the walls of the home, the coalition says to stop and consider the risk of a sewer cross bore, when underground natural gas pipes may have been unintentionally installed through sewer pipes.
“Although this is rare, the pipes can co-exist safely and go undetected until the sewer pipe is blocked and needs to be cleared,” states Utilities Kingston in an announcement.
Mechanical plumbing tools could easily damage natural gas pipes and lead to a dangerous natural gas leak, the groups warn.
If a blockage is suspected outside the home, owners can call Ontario One Call, which will notify the gas companies and result in a free sewer safety inspection.