By City News Service
Los Angeles sanitation officials on Monday announced the completion of a pipe replacement project that may have contributed to a spill in which more than a ton of medical and personal hygiene waste washed onto South Bay beaches in September.
Condoms, tampon applicators, syringes and other waste that began showing up on Dockweiler State Beach and surrounding beaches on Sept. 23 may have been part of debris that was dislodged from a one-mile backup pipe that was brought back online while a longer, five-mile pipe that normally serves the Hyperion sewage treatment plant underwent maintenance.
With the work finished, the water flow at the wastewater plant was diverted back today to the original five-mile pipe used to transport treated and disinfected water into the Santa Monica Bay, sanitation officials said.
The one-mile pipe will now only be used in emergencies. Sanitation officials said that in case it is needed again, the pipe has been thoroughly cleaned.
Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation General Manager Enrique Zaldivar said the department has “researched, inspected and cleaned every connection” to the one-mile pipe to ensure no debris could be washed out in the future.
Aging pipes and valves on the five-mile pipeline were replaced and discharge pumps were refurbished. Crews hurried to finish the work in six weeks, hoping to avoid the start of the rainy season.
It was unclear Monday if sanitation officials have confirmed a link between the spill and the maintenance work. Investigations are ongoing into the spill, which prompted the closure of the affected beaches for several days.
Hyperion is one of four wastewater treatment plants the city owns and operates.