Los Angeles County suffered a sewage spill of historic proportions last week. More than 8 million gallons of raw sewage led to seven beach closures over the New Year weekend.
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It all started on Dec. 30 in the L.A. County city of Carson. A 48-inch sewer mainline near the 110 northbound offramp to 220th Street collapsed, allowing sewage to flow into the Dominguez Channel. From there it poured into Los Angeles Harbor.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn questioned whether an aging or inadequately maintained infrastructure led to the sewer failure. “A spill of this magnitude is dangerous and unacceptable, and we need to understand what happened,” she said in a statement. “The recent storm undoubtedly contributed, but we need infrastructure that doesn’t fail when it rains.”
Closures included Seal Beach in Orange County and seven miles of shoreline in Long Beach. To make matters even grosser, sewage oozed onto some city streets post-spill. Reporter Jessica De Nova tweeted about a sullied neighborhood “filled w/awful odors & this river of raw sewage running through their street Thursday.”
The spill was bad timing for a popular tradition, the New Year’s Day Polar Bear “Swim & Dip” at Cabrillo Beach. This year would have been the event’s 70th. Instead, it was canceled. “Tragically — the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim at Cabrillo Beach has been cancelled,” Hahn tweeted. “This is a treasured local tradition — canceling it is a terrible way to start off the year.”
The city of Carson had an unusually busy start to 2022, as it rigged sewage bypass systems, monitored water, excavated the collapsed sewer, removed debris, cleaned streets and prepared for a slip-lining procedure scheduled to begin next week. “Slip-lining involves placing a 42-inch pipe within the existing 48-inch sewer, which will provide a new, corrosion-resistant pipe to carry the sewage,” the city of Carson’s website explains. “We are expecting the 42-inch pipe to be delivered later this week and the permanent repair would then begin. Once the permanent repair is done, the area can be restored including reopening the 110 offramp lanes.”
By Jan. 4, sampled water from affected beaches showed that the quality again met state standards.
Lead image via City of Carson