- A mechanical failure “caused untreated sewage to be discharged into the ocean,” according to Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.
- The Hyperion plant is both Los Angeles’ largest and oldest sewage treatment facility and has been in operation since 1894.
- The Southern California beaches, which in all total about four miles, will remain closed until water sample tests come up negative for bacteria.
Miles of beaches in Los Angeles were closed to swimmers Monday as 17 million gallons of sewage from the city’s largest treatment plant spilled into Santa Monica Bay the night before.
A mechanical failure “at the Hyperion plant last night caused untreated sewage to be discharged into the ocean,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said on Twitter. “Water samples are being tested and I’m getting more information about the scope of the problem. Beaches from El Segundo to the Dockweiler RV Park are closed for swimming.”
Closure signs were posted in the areas around El Segundo and Dockweiler State Beaches, as well as Grand Ave. Storm Drain, and officials urged visitors from going into the water. The beaches, which in all total about four miles, will remain closed until water sample tests come up negative for bacteria, the County Department of Public Health said in a news release.
The Hyperion plant is both the city’s largest and oldest sewage treatment facility and has been in operation since 1894. The plant was designed to accommodate a daily flow of 450 million gallons of water per day.
Executive Plant Manager Timeyin Dafeta said in a statement that the facility “became inundated with overwhelming quantities of debris, causing backup of the headworks facilities.”
“The plant’s relief system was triggered and sewage flows were controlled through use of the plant’s one-mile outfall and discharge of untreated sewage into Santa Monica Bay,” Dafeta said.
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About 6% of the facility’s daily load was discharged as an emergency measure to prevent the plant from going offline and spewing even more raw sewage, the statement said.
“Bacteria and viruses in raw sewage are extremely dangerous to people and can carry a variety of diseases,” environmental advocacy group Heal the Bay said. “Debris such as tampons and plastic trash, when released into the Bay, can harbor bacteria and can cause entanglement of wildlife, but it seems in this case those debris were successfully filtered out of the spill before it made it to the Bay.”
Dafeta told the Los Angeles Times that the mechanical failure was resolved Monday morning.
“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,” Hahn said on Twitter.
The largest spill in city history occurred in 1998, with more than 30 million gallons of sewage spilled during El Niño storms.
Another notable sewage spill occurred in 2016 when a damaged sewage line spilled about 2.4 million gallons of untreated waste into the Los Angeles River and forced the closure of all beaches in the county in Long Beach and Seal Beach.
In 2018, a sewage leak at Dodger Stadium forced the cancellation of the final innings of a game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels.
Contributing: The Associated Press