Watch where you put your grease

WESTFIELD—The Board of Health has implemented new rules for fats, oils and grease disposal.

Sausages cooking in a greasy pan. Both elements can cause clogged drains.

Sausages cooking in a greasy pan. Both elements can cause clogged drains.

Fats, oils and grease, or “FOG” as industry professionals call them, can clog septic and sewer systems, which can cause significant damage. The Board of Health is attempting to get the word out now to residents, as well as implement new guidelines for food establishments to follow when it comes to disposing of FOGs.

“We’re trying to be proactive and not reactive with this thing and try and be ahead of the ball on this one. It’s something a lot of people aren’t aware of,” Steve Cipriani, Board of Health code enforcement inspector, said.

When FOGs are put into septic and sewer systems they can congeal and harden, Cipriani said, which can then cause blockages. These blockages can then cause systems to back up, as well as hefty repairs for homeowners and the Department of Public Works.

FOGs can come from a number of sources. While the obvious ones include cooking oils and greases, it may also be from cheese, yogurt, milk, meat and salad dressings. The proper disposal of these would be to throw the cooled greases away in a waxed container, such as a milk carton. And regarding food that can produce FOG, rather than putting it in the sink and through a garbage disposal, try to dispose of as much as you can in the garbage.

“Limit as much as you can what goes down the drain, because it can affect everyone one way or another,” Cipriani said.

For businesses, Cipriani said the new regulations will include cleaning their grease systems four times per year. Inspections will be done, and if clogs are still found then there may be requests to do additional cleanings. Also, Cipriani said that businesses that produce low amounts of FOG can apply for a variance through the city, which would require less frequent cleaning measures.

For those businesses that fail to comply, the fine system increases with each offense. The first offense is a written warning; second offense is $100; third offense is $250; and fourth offense is $500. Also, each day that the issue persists will be considered an additional offense.

For residents, there are no fines, as the guidelines are not tied to any enforcement.

For more information, residents can contact Director of Public Health Joseph Rouse, at (413) 572-6210.

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