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Sewer Heroes: Fighting the Fatberg

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Turning the Spotlight on Water & Wastewater

Millions of professionals around the world are involved in designing, constructing, operating, managing and maintaining our cities' crucial water & wastewater infrastructure - keeping the water cycle running smoothly at all times. But despite their essential contributions to society, the people working in the water & wastewater industry in hundreds of different types of indispensable jobs usually remain invisible to the public, not getting the amount of recognition they deserve - both in real life and in our LEGO cities. About time for a change!

While it's impossible to squeeze the entirety of this complex topic into just one LEGO set, you can still start somewhere: Being dedicated to all the water & wastewater professionals out there, "Sewer Heroes: Fighting the Fatberg" turns the spotlight on the urban underground in a way never seen before in LEGO form - playfully bringing into focus one of the biggest problems of our sewer systems infrastructure: the infamous fatberg!

Think before you flush!

Used cooking grease, food, wet wipes and lots of other rubbish that does not belong in the sewer system is a huge problem, which both private households and commercial kitchens contribute to. Using drains and toilets as rubbish bins causes sewer blockages, plastic pollution in the sewage and other issues which are a serious threat to our wastewater infrastructure and the environment.

Over time fat, oil & grease (FOG) and all kinds of rubbish accumulates in pipes and sewers, starting to form big lumps that eventually develop into monstrous fatbergs. While getting bigger and bigger, a fatberg clogs the sewage flow more and more, which can result in flooded streets and pollution of the environment even before the sewer gets blocked completely. While only the biggest fatbergs make it into the news, millions of other sewer blockages caused by FOG and "unflushables" (like wet wipes, cotton buds, plasters, nappies, dental floss and many more) occur every year all over the world. By the way, the biggest fatbergs grow to well over 100 meters in length and more than 100 tonnes in mass.

Exploring the urban underground

Playfully educating kids and adults about what’s going on beneath our cities' streets, this 360-degree underground cutaway display & play set is starring the dauntless members of a fatberg removal team at work: Recently a big fatberg had been discovered in the main sewer nearby the mixed-use residential/commercial building with the "Burgers & Fries" restaurant on the ground floor and residential units above. Now the "Sewer Heroes" have been called to take care of this indelicate situation before it's too late.

In the model's front section LEGO fans accompany the sewer workers on their tough mission, learning some things about the challenges of the profession and helping them to fight the fatberg to unblock the sewer. Meanwhile, turning the set around enables kids and adults to backtrack the stream of FOG and other "unflushables" to their (possible) entry points at the back of the model - raising awareness of the direct connection between the sewer blockage at the front and the problematic things that are being flushed down the house's wastewater pipes shown at the back of the set. However, it will take further investigations to find out which connected house(s) all the FOG (fat, oil & grease) and rubbish that resulted in the formation of the fatberg really came from.

This monster is real!

Because the fatberg has become rock-hard already, it will probably be too difficult and time-consuming to tackle this disgusting monstrosity using only pickaxes and shovels. That's why our "FOG Busters" have also brought their heavy-duty fatberg removal machinery to this operation: A state-of-the-art jet/vac truck armed with high-pressure water-jetting equipment and a powerful vacuum pump - these will be used for breaking the fatberg up and sucking it into the truck's tank piece by piece. Should the pieces still be too big or too hard, they'll eventually get winched out in buckets. Later on the removed mass will be recycled and converted into biofuel, by the way. The sewer workers are just about to start fighting the fatberg any minute now, facing a time-consuming and expensive removal process which will take several days or even weeks as the giant lump continues far into the sewer (with the model only showing a fraction of the entire obstruction).

The model

The type of sewer depicted in the model is a "combined sewer" where the system of pipes & tunnels is used to transport sewage and urban runoff together to a sewage treatment plant. Nowadays this gravity sewer design can be found primarily in older cities. In contrast, modern separate sewer systems transport rain water and sanitary sewage separately, with only the latter being carried to a wastewater treatment facility. Walkable sewers as shown by the model are rare overall (but they provide the best play & display value for a LEGO set). The best-known sewerage systems of this kind can for instance be found in big European cities like Berlin, Paris, London or Vienna.

Features of the model:

  • The 360-degree cutaway build reveals the urban underground in a unique way never seen before in LEGO form
  • Accompany the sewer workers fighting the fatberg to unblock the sewer, and learn something about their challenging profession
  • The detailed walkable sewer can be accessed through the (functioning) manhole in the street
  • Drive the jet/vac truck & operate its high-pressure water jetting & vacuum equipment to help tackle the fatberg
  • Backtrack the stream of FOG (fat, oil & grease) and other "unflushables" to their (possible) entry points at the back of the model 
  • The mixed-use residential/commercial building features a "Burgers & Fries" restaurant with a kitchen on the ground floor and a residential unit with a kitchen and a bathroom above
  • Discover the secrets of the house's basement
  • The model is compatible with the new LEGO Road Plates, so you can connect the set's street directly to the roads of the rest of your LEGO City layout
  • If you don't feel like fighting the fatberg anymore you can modify the set for stand-alone use or for your LEGO City layout and make it a subway station, train/road tunnel, underground garage, hideout, bank robbery scene or spooky movie setting for instance
  • Features 8 minifigures and 2 birds
  • Measurements: 27 x 22 x 27 cm (approximate W x D x H)
  • Mass: 2649 g
  • Total part count: 2521 (including the figures' pieces) 

The Figures:

  • Sewer Heroes: The Boss (always puts on his serious face when it comes to blockages)
  • Sewer Heroes: Jet/vac truck operator (would have loved to have this LEGO model when she was a kid)
  • Sewer Heroes: Veteran sewer worker (has seen everything in the sewers. Everything!)
  • Sewer Heroes: Apprentice sewer worker (is still wondering whether her veteran coworker has actually seen everything in the sewers)
  • Restaurant Guest (has ordered a burger and a milkshake)
  • Waiter (is serving the burger and the milkshake)
  • Chef (will immediately check if his kitchen's "grease trap" is still working properly)
  • Pyjama Guy (has woken up late, now getting ready in the bathroom - hopefully not flushing any "unflushables" down the drains)

Note:

When entering sewers, all professionals have to follow complex health and safety procedures. But in order to retain the set's play & display value, not all of those measures are being depicted in the model. In reality the team members would also be equipped with gas monitors to warn them of poisonous or explosive gases, just to name one example.

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