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Several Southern California beaches reopen after massive sewage spill

People walk on the sand near a sign that says, "Keep out, beach closed."
A sign at Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach on Sunday warns visitors of the contaminated water. All swimming beaches in the city remain closed after a huge sewage spill in the Dominguez Channel, but others in L.A. and Orange counties have reopened.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Several Southern California beaches closed last week by a multimillion-gallon sewage spill in Carson were reopened as of Monday, although swimming waters in Long Beach remained closed due to testing availability.

The closures began Friday after a sewer main failed the day before, sending between 6 million and 7 million gallons of waste into the Dominguez Channel, which flows to the Los Angeles Harbor. Earlier estimates had the spill amount at between 2 million and 4 million gallons.

The 60-year-old line had deteriorated due to a buildup of sulfuric acid and might have been strained by the series of storms that hit the region last week. It was due to be replaced within the year.

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The spill closed outer and inner Cabrillo Beach, Wilder’s Addition Park at Point Fermin, Portuguese Bend at Rancho Palos Verdes and White Point-Royal Palms Beach in Los Angeles County, along with Seal and Sunset beaches in Orange County. All swimming areas in Long Beach were also closed.

As of Monday, beaches at Point Fermin, Royal Palms, Rancho Palos Verdes and Cabrillo were open, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. However, Inner Cabrillo Beach was under a health warning due to “bacterial levels exceeding health standards,” the department said in a news release.

The air quality district issued violation notices to four companies and L.A. County over a smell from the Dominguez Channel that has sickened Carson residents for weeks.

The Orange County Health Care Agency announced Monday afternoon that Seal and Sunset beaches were also reopened.

Long Beach swimming areas remained closed because waters were unable to be tested over the weekend, said Jennifer Rice Epstein, public affairs officer for the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.

Epstein said samples were collected Monday. Beaches must be tested for two consecutive days to reopen.

As for the spill, Los Angeles County Sanitation District crews had installed bypass pipes by Saturday to stem the flow into the channel, and a temporary fix of the burst line is expected to be completed within weeks. The new sewer line is expected to be completed within six to 12 months.

Late last year, the Dominguez Channel was the source of a noxious odor that lingered in Carson and surrounding areas for weeks. A warehouse fire that sent chemicals into the channel was the likely culprit, regulators said.


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