A stretch of beach in the El Segundo area that had been closed due to medical waste and other refuse washing ashore reopened Friday, but Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey remained closed while cleanup efforts continue.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said the beach was reopened between Grand Avenue and 45th Street around 6 p.m. Dockweiler State Beach from Grand Avenue north to Ballona Creek in Playa del Rey was still closed.
The beach was closed Wednesday after debris that included hypodermic needles, condoms and tampon applicators began washing up on the sand.
LA Sanitation officials said the material was likely the result of last week’s heavy rains inundating systems at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant in Playa del Rey, forcing a discharge through pipe that had not been used in a decade.
“This debris may have been gathering in that outfall for close to 10 years, as that outfall has been dormant during that time,” according to LA Sanitation, a division of the city Department of Public Works. “The peak storm flow from last week may have impacted the screening process filtering these types of items and was compounded by the first flush through the one-mile outfall.”
LA Sanitation officials said today that bacteria levels in the ocean water, which had been elevated, have been measured within state water quality standards at Santa Monica Bay beaches for the last two days.
Cleanup crews have collected more than 200 pounds of debris from Dockweiler Beach over the past few days, but sanitation officials said today the amount of debris washing ashore had diminished dramatically, with fewer than a dozen items found this morning.
Sanitation officials said they first became aware of the debris Tuesday night and have had as many as three vessels in the area where the one-mile pipe releases material into the water, “and no additional materials have been observed in the last three days, indicating this is not a continuous source of debris.”
A Hyperion pipeline that normally pumps wastewater five miles off the coastline is being repaired, forcing the plant to use the shorter, one-mile pipeline.
Officials with the environmental group Heal the Bay have been warning about possible increases in bacteria levels and waste due to the repair project, which is expected to last at least five weeks.
—City News Service
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