Nearly two months after a massive sewage spill at the Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn Wednesday sent city officials a letter urging them to expedite reimbursements to El Segundo residents who stayed in hotels or bought air conditioning units due to the odor.
Los Angeles Sanitation and Environment announced on July 23 that El Segundo residents would be reimbursed up to $1,200 for air conditioning units or up to $182 per day for hotels, as well as meals and incidentals up to $62 per day for each person who lives full time in the household.
Hahn, who represents El Segundo on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, said the city has received 3,000 reimbursements and said that residents can expect the payment process to take six to 12 weeks.
“The residents who took the city up on that offer had no idea that it would mean being saddled with thousands of dollars of credit card debt for months,” Hahn said in her letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and Controller Ron Galperin.
“Timely reimbursements are not too much to ask. Imagine if your residents took six to 12 weeks to pay their utility bills.”
Her letter also copied El Segundo Mayor Drew Boyles, Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin, Board of Public Works President Greg Good and LASAN General Manager Barbara Romero.
Galperin told City News Service, “Since the catastrophic Hyperion sewage spill, I have fought hard to hold the Bureau of Sanitation accountable and ensure that those impacted receive the relief they were promised and deserve. Right now, it is taking far too long for the bureau to process claims, compounding the problem for people in need.
“My office has pushed sanitation for weeks to cut the red tape and expedite payments to El Segundo residents who have applied for reimbursement. As a result, the bureau committed to add new staff and other resources to deal with the issue.
“We have also been in continuous contact with the city of El Segundo about the status of applications. Once sanitation begins approving claims more expeditiously, my office can step in and do our job by getting checks to people within a 24- to 48-hour timeframe.”
On July 11, 17 million gallons of raw sewage was discharged into the ocean from Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant after debris clogged screens and caused flooding at the facility. Plant Manager Tim Dafeta said significant quantities of debris — mostly “everyday mundane trash” including wipes, but also construction material and other large debris — clogged the plant’s filtering screens.
The city offered reimbursements to El Segundo residents to help their quality of life amid the odor.
Following the sewage spill, beaches were closed the next day, prompting questions about why it took a day to notify the public about the raw sewage spill and close the following areas:
— Dockweiler State Beach at Water Way Extension;
— Dockweiler State Beach at Hyperion Plant;
— El Segundo Beach; and
— Grand Avenue Storm Drain.
The beaches were reopened July 15, after ocean water samples collected over two days met state standards for acceptable water quality, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.