A stretch of Los Angeles coastline is closed to beachgoers due to health concerns after 17 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Santa Monica Bay.
The spill started Sunday night and was stopped early Monday, according to Heal The Bay, a Los Angeles-based environmental advocacy group.
The spill was caused by a mechanical failure at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, where the plant became “inundated with overwhelming quantities of debris,” the LA Sanitation and Environment department said in a Tuesday statement. A relief system was then triggered, which piped the sewage into the ocean.
“During the eight hours of discharge through the one-mile outfall, approximately 17 million gallons of sewage (representing six percent of a daily load) was discharged as an emergency measure to prevent the plant from going completely offline and discharging much more raw sewage,” the statement read.
Statement regarding Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant discharge today. pic.twitter.com/SY5L8gC0vK
— LA Sanitation & Environment (@LACitySAN) July 13, 2021
The plant is designed to accommodate a daily flow of 450 million gallons per day and is the city’s largest wastewater plant, USA Today reported. It is also the city’s oldest sanitation plants, having operated since 1894, according to CNN.
Beaches in the area are closed indefinitely as the city works to test the water for elevated levels of bacteria, 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,” Hahn said. “Beaches from El Segundo to the Dockweiler RV Park are closed for swimming.”
A power outage at the Hyperion plant last night caused untreated sewage to be discharged into the ocean. 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.
— Janice Hahn (@SupJaniceHahn) July 12, 2021
Bacteria and viruses carried in the sewage can be “extremely dangerous” to swimmers and spread diseases, Heal The Bay reported. (RELATED: ‘The Poop Piles Up’: Images Show Chinese Ships Putting Human Waste Into South China Sea, Experts Say’)
However, debris in the sewage seem to have been successfully removed from the spill before it entered the bay, according to Heal The Bay.
Water in the area was sampled Tuesday morning by Hyperion staff, and the results should be available sometime later the same day, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health statement.
The Hyperion plant is now reportedly operating normally.