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California's Seal Beach Reopens After Sewage Spill Incident, Long Beach Remains Closed

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The recent sewage spill has led to the closure of all beaches in Seal Beach and Long Beach in California. Last Tuesday, officials said that a sewage line has been damaged and spilled a whopping total of 2.4 million gallons of untreated waste into the Los Angeles River.

The leak started about 2 p.m. last Monday. It stopped late Monday night but started leaking again on Tuesday due to the cracked pipe.

According to City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works spokesperson Tonya Durrell, the overflow happened near Mission Road and 6th Street in Boyle Heights. On Tuesday afternoon, the leak fully stopped.

According to officials, the 5-foot sewer pipe's top collapsed. This sent debris into the pipe and caused a clog that led to the sewage overflow into a 51-mile waterway in Los Angeles County that ended in Long Beach, California.

Workers used pumps to capture approximately 750,000 gallons of sewage spill before the waste reached the river. However, officials still don't know what caused the collapse.

"This is an old sewer, an aging sewer that was planned to be repaired. This one, we had a plan and it did not wait for us, it collapsed," said Los Angeles sanitation's assistant director Adel Hagekhalil. The massive sewer line was constructed in 1929.

Hagekhalil added that they have a very good record in Los Angeles, spending more than $2 billion upgrading sewers in the past 10 years.

On Tuesday, the sanitation team added a bypass system that will divert the waste flow around the old sewer pipe. But the recent sewage incident already posed several health risks apart from the foul smell.

Untreated sewage spill is riddled with bacteria and even viruses, which could cause infections in the eyes, throat and ears. According to Long Beach's acting health officer Dr. Mauro Torno, they decided to shut down swimming along the coast and wait until tests show the water is safe.

On Thursday, the Orange County Health Care Agency said the water tests showed the levels of bacteria are within the acceptable standards. This led to the re-opening of the Seal Beach, which lay between the Anaheim Bay and San Gabriel River Mouth.

But the Long Beach health officials said on Wednesday that the initial water tests came back "mostly clean." However, additional tests indicated that the levels of bacteria still didn't drop to a level enough for the beaches to re-open. Officials are not expecting to re-open Long Beach until Saturday at the very least.

Photo: Greg Gjerdingen | Flickr

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