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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Monkey to clean up sewer system
Chips the grease monkey
Chips the grease monkey is touring the region
A water company is setting loose a monkey character on the streets of the north-east of England in an effort to clean up the region's sewers.

Chips the grease monkey has been created by Northumbrian Water to raise awareness of the problems caused when oil and fat are poured down sinks.

These include flooded homes and gardens, and damage to the environment.

The company also wants to reduce the costs of unnecessary cleaning of treatment works.

'Serious message'

Cleaning grease at just one big treatment works costs about 50,000 a year and Northumbrian Water has almost 450 treatment works and 15,500 km of sewers to look after.

Hot or cold grease comes from many sources, including margarine, butter, lard, cooking oil, meat fats, food scraps and sauces.

The company advises people to allow the fat or oil to cool, then scrape or pour it out into newspaper or an old cardboard box and put it in the bin.

Graham Neave, operations director for Northumbrian Water, said: "Using the monkey Chips is a light-hearted way to highlight a serious message and with the support of our 2.6m customers we can really make a difference.

"Sewers are only designed to take waste water from the home - all other waste should go out with the rubbish."

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