A major spill closed two-miles of beach known as “The Strand” near Marina del Rey dumping about 500,000 gallons of raw sewage into Ballona creek that empties into the ocean, according to authorities.
The coastline opened after tests confirmed a clean bill of health for human entry on Friday, Oct. 1. A series of tests required by the Los Angeles County Water Quality Board determined that the water passed health tests for two consecutive days.
The warning was in effect until at least 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 2, pending bacteria level in the ocean water until after test results were released. Signs posted the warning from Dockweiler State Beach until a quarter mile north of Marina del Rey.
The spill has been major news in local and regional news, citing the spill as one of the worst in two years for any Los Angeles County coastline. Beaches were closed by the L.A. County Department of Public Health as a precautionary measure.
A manhole overflowed near the 6100 block of Centinela Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard intersection in Culver City, according to the Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors. Residents reported the incident at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Cora Jackson Fossett, a spokesperson for City of L.A. Department of Public Works, said the issue was resolved quickly with no indication that sewage actually reached the ocean. She said most of the sewage appears to have been caught in a concrete tributary draining into Ballona Creek.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a blockage in a sewer main caused the refuse to enter into an adjacent storm drain, which releases into the Sepulveda Channel and travels to Ballona Creek. Both L.A. and Culver City cleaning crews fixed the blockage and diverted the sewage stream within five hours, according the Times.
Based on information provided by the City of L.A. to Culver City, debris consisting of items such as rags and a mop head were jammed in the trap maintenance manhole.
Culver City diverted flow from its pump station and created a containment berm using sandbags to stop the flow, according to a press release. Crews also vacuumed the waste running down a hillside approximately 600 feet from the manhole.
“We are asking people to avoid entering or swimming in the ocean in the area immediately south of Ballona Creek,” said Director of Public Health and County Health Officer Jonathan E. Fielding in a news release last week.
Beaches have since been reopened after test confirmed the water safe for swimmers and surfers, according to Fosset. The precautionary closure ensured that no one was subject to any health or safety concerns, she said.
In 2006, 2 million gallons of sewage released from a Manhattan Beach pumping plant after a reported power failure. Hundreds of thousands of gallons flowed into the ocean and onto the beach, commencing a widespread cleanup by officials.
Another major spill occurred in January in South Gate flowing 210,000 gallons of effluent through the L.A. River and into the Long Beach Harbor, according to county Records.