A massive sewage spill has led to the temporary closure of all swimming areas in beaches in the Southern California city, Long Beach.
City officials announced the spill on Friday, December 31, 2021, confirming millions of gallons of untreated sewage were discharged into the Dominguez Channel, a waterway that empties into Los Angeles Harbor.
According to authorities, it’s the largest spill in LA County history. In a news release, the city of Long Beach said that the spill occurred in the city of Carson because of the failure of a 48-inch sewer mainline.
It is estimated that about 8.5 million gallons of sewage spilled into a nearby storm drain and continued through the Dominguez Channel and the LA Harbor. State law requires temporary closure and posting at beaches in these situations until the water quality meets State requirements.
Some of the beaches that were closed down were Cabrillo, Point Fermin, White Point Park, Royal Palm, Rancho Palos Verdes, Seal beach, and other areas in neighboring Orange County.
Long Beach has approximately seven miles of public beach. The Long Beach Health Department’s Water Quality Inspection Team is monitoring water quality in the affected beach areas and will continue until results comply with state water quality standards.
LACSD said, “As a safety precaution due to spoiled sewage reaching the ocean, the LA County Department of Public Health issued a closure of beaches from Long Beach to Rancho Palos Verdes.
Some raw sewage was even seen floating around in some neighborhoods. One resident even said, “It’s just flooding the street with fecal matter and toiletries just going down the street…odor is really, really bad…contaminating our neighborhood.”
To protect the safety of the public, weekly water samples are collected and tested routinely to monitor bacteria levels. For their safety, the community is encouraged to pay close attention to any warning signs posted at beaches.
The 70th annual Polar bear Swim that usually draws hundreds of people to Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro for a New Year’s Day Plunge was canceled.
This is the second major Southern California sewage spill in six months. Back in July, four miles of beaches were temporarily closed when 17 million gallons of sewage spilled into Santa Monica Bay after a mechanical failure at a nearby sewage treatment facility.
Crews were finally able to stop the sewage overflow by installing five bypass systems, and three of the bypass systems were installed for protection.
Beaches began to start reopening on Monday, January 3, 2022. According to public health officials, two consecutive clean sample tests were taken on the water to ensure that it was safe for swimming.