Fatberg display opening at Michigan Science Center

Fatberg in Macomb County sewer pip prior to its removal.
Fatberg in Macomb County sewer pip prior to its removal.

The Michigan Science Center, with support from the Healthy Urban Waters program at Wayne State University and the Macomb County Public Works Office, will unveil a new educational display featuring pieces of the Macomb County fatberg, which was removed from a Macomb County sewer line in 2018.

The fatberg was a 19-ton collection of fats, oils, grease and other materials that formed in a sewer pipe in Clinton Township. Prior to its disposal, it was 100 feet long, 11 feet wide and 6 feet tall. It included a large number of baby wipes and other materials that should not be flushed down toilets. Actual pieces of the Macomb County fatberg are included in the display.

The fatberg was removed by the Macomb County Public Works Office, who used the fatberg as an opportunity to educate the public about the problems – and expenses – that can be created by pouring grease down the drain or flushing down wipes and other materials. With the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers at Wayne State conducted a study of the fatberg and are sharing their findings with other sewer system operators. The Michigan Science Center display — which is a part of this NSF grant — aims to teach visitors how our community infrastructure can be negatively impacted by these items and provide them with actions they can adopt to mitigate future occurrences of these man-made fatbergs.

The fatberg educational centerpiece will be unveiled at the Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R, Detroit, at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5. Speakers will include Christian Greer, president & CEO of the Michigan Science Center; Candice Miller, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner; and Carol Miller, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Healthy Urban Water program at Wayne State University. As part of the opening day, several area organizations will have an educational display on public water and sewer services.

Media may park in the main parking lot in front of the Michigan Science Center.

The award number for this NSF-funded project, RAPID: Response to Massive Sewer Blockage for Immediate Flood Mitigation and Future Remedies, is 1903329. The principal investigator on the project is Dr. Carol Miller and the co-principal investigator is Tracie Baker, DVM, Ph.D., professor in the Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Wayne State.  

Contact info

Julie O'Connor

Director, Research Communications
Phone: 313-577-8845
Email: julie.oconnor@wayne.edu