On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In New Tab
MPR News

Minnesota gross: Don't pour that turkey fat down the drain

Share story

Britain New Fatberg
Thames Water field operation manager Natalie Stearn holds a piece of the fatberg in an 1852-built sewer at Westminster in London, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.
Frank Augstein | AP

Thanksgiving may be a time of joy for you, but for sewer workers it's the season of dread — the holiday when clogged fats, oil, grease and disposable wipes can lead to sewer backups and other unpleasantness.

Because of that, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is pleading with people to keep the grease from Thanksgiving dinner out of the kitchen drain.

The agency says people should dispose of fat, oil and grease in the trash by pouring them onto newspaper or into a container. Wipe out greasy pots and pans with a paper towel before washing.

A screen within the Metropolitan Council sewer lift station is active.
The Metropolitan Council sewer lift station uses screens to filter out materials that may block sewers on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 in Eagan, Minn. If too much grease, oil and fat combines with solid waste like disposable wipes or towels, a sewer blockage called a "fatberg" can form.
Ellen Schmidt

And don't flush the "disposable" wipes. Put them in the trash. The wipes don't break down and can cause damage to the sewer system. Many cities have had to repair or replace pumps and other equipment as a result.

Last year, a section of London's sewer system was infamously blocked by a disgusting 130-ton mass of sanitary products and cooking fat that became known as the "fatberg."

Minneapolis on Monday gently warned citizens of the potential havoc of fat, noting that the city has a new rule that lets it charge property owners for cleaning, repairing or replacing city pipes clogged with grease.

"Problem spots in one-tenth of the sewer system have cost (Minneapolis) close to $1 million since 2012 to keep pipes flowing," city officials said in a statement. "The clogs divert money and time from other critical sewer system needs as crews are inspecting pipes and cleaning out grease every two weeks. "

It's best to let liquid fat cool in the cooking pan or pour it into a disposable container, the city said, adding that "once it solidifies it can be reused or disposed of in the trash. Fat trimmings can go in the organics recycling."