Orange County expands beach closure area after raw sewage spill

Local news

Beaches in Los Angeles County and Orange County remained closed Sunday after more than 8 million gallons of untreated sewage spilled into the Dominguez Channel in Carson.

O.C. health officials on Saturday expanded the beach closure area to include Seal Beach’s Surfside Beach and Huntington Beach’s Sunset Beach due to the sewage spill. Affected areas will remain closed to swimming, surfing and diving until the results of follow-up water quality monitoring meet acceptable standards, the O.C. Health Care Agency, Environmental Health Division said.

In L.A. County, at least five beaches were closed Saturday, according to county public health officials, prompting the cancellation of some events, such as the 70th annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day at Cabrillo Beach.

The spill was first reported Thursday, after a 48-inch sewer main line failed, discharging sewage into the Dominguez Channel, a flood-control waterway that runs more than 15 miles from Hawthorne and discharges into Los Angeles Harbor at the Port of Los Angeles. Water from the channel eventually flows to the Pacific Ocean.

Officials initially estimated the spill at 2 to 4 million gallons before revising the estimate upward to as high as 8 million gallons on Friday afternoon.

Workers stopped the raw sewage flow by 9 p.m. Friday with help of five pumped bypass systems, according to Bryan Langpap, spokesman for L.A. County Sanitation Districts.

Langpap said the work to clear the damaged pipe is still ongoing, adding that it’s unclear when that work will be completed.

“Last night around 9:50 p.m. we got some flow through the damaged sewer,” Langpap said. “However, that flow was stopped so that we can clear more debris from the area and safely return the sewer to service.” 

Meanwhile, authorities said the beaches would remain closed until testing of water samples shows bacteria levels are within state standards.

The Dominguez Channel was recently the site of another environmental mishap. In September, a fire at a Carson warehouse housing beauty products released a foul stench in the air and chemicals into the sewage system that ultimately drained into the Dominguez Channel.

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