17 million gallons of sewage floods and closes California beaches

Swimming has been banned in more than a mile of ocean, due to sewage spill at Hyperion Water Reclamation plant

Jade Bremner
Tuesday 13 July 2021 13:20 BST
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Beaches from El Segundo Beach, south of Los Angeles International Airport, to the Dockweiler RV Park are closed for swimming
Beaches from El Segundo Beach, south of Los Angeles International Airport, to the Dockweiler RV Park are closed for swimming (LACoFD Lifeguards)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Beaches in Los Angeles have been closed due to safety concerns after some 17 million gallons of sewage spilt into Santa Monica Bay during an eight-hour leak from a water treatment plant.

The sewage was released from the Hyperion Water Reclamation plant, one of the largest treatment plants in the world, situated near Dockweiler State Beach.

Officials are investigating the incident. “I understand that the plant was able to prevent an even larger spill, but we are going to need answers about how and why this happened,” tweeted Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Ms Hahn also explained that a one- to two-mile stretch of ocean – from El Segundo Beach, south of Los Angeles International Airport, to the Dockweiler RV Park – was closed for swimming.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department, Lifeguard Division, has put red signs on beaches reading: “Beach closed for swimming. Contaminated water: contact with ocean water may cause illness”.

LA Sanitation and Environment (LASE) has since issued a statement explaining that the plant had become “inundated with overwhelming quantities of debris, causing backup of the headwork facilities. The plant’s relief system was triggered and sewage flows were controlled through use of the plant’s relief system”.

The discharge continued for eight hours, according to LASE, and accounted for 6 per cent of the plant’s daily load.

Water quality sampling is currently being conducted, and swimming will be allowed when bacteria levels are safe again. Results on the water quality are expected within 24 hours.

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