Broken Line Dumps 50,000 Gallons of Sewage Into Bay

Times Staff Writer

A three-mile stretch of Pacific Palisades beach was closed Thursday morning after officials discovered that a broken sewer line had spewed 50,000 gallons of raw sewage into Santa Monica Bay overnight.

The city’s coastal interceptor sewer was damaged Wednesday afternoon by a private contracting firm hired by the county to refurbish a beach parking lot. But because of snafus, the problem was not reported to the proper city officials until 17 hours later, according to the city Department of Public Works.

By that time, raw sewage had flowed into the Pulga Canyon storm drain and had discharged into the surf just north of Temescal Canyon Road. While temporary repairs were made, health officials closed the beach from Chautauqua Boulevard north to Sunset Boulevard.

Unaware of Flowing Sewage


Employees of Apani Construction Co. did not realize that the line, which connects to the city’s Hyperion Sewage Plant, was in operation because no sewage flowed out of it when it was damaged, according to Eric Bourdon, assistant director of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors.

However, the city was contacted at 7:45 a.m. Thursday when a county maintenance worker noticed the sewage flowing on his arrival at work, Bourden added.

“These things can happen,” said Harry Sizemore, assistant director of the city Bureau of Sanitation. But “I would only remind the county that they sent us a letter recently about their participating with us containing previous flows in the area. . . . The line is fairly well known.”

‘Moderate’ or ‘Minor’ Spill


Sizemore termed the spill “moderate” in nature. Bourdon, on the other hand, said, “It’s what they would normally consider a minor spill.”

Officials said the affected stretch of beach is rarely used in the winter, although it is a popular swimming spot during the summer months. The beach will remain closed at least 48 hours while lab tests of the contamination are analyzed, said Gary Lynch, senior environmental health specialist for the county’s Department of Health.