Failed Valve Causes Raw Sewage Spill in CA

Thursday, May 21, 2015 @ 06:05 PM gHale

Over 100,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled at Lovers Point in Pacific Grove, CA, Monday and the effluent flowed into the ocean for six hours.

The spill came after Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency workers were doing maintenance repairs at a pump station on Ocean View Boulevard at Lovers Point when a plug valve failed at 10:30 a.m., Monterey Deputy Fire Marshal David Reade said.

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The failed plug caused the station to flood and fill with sewage. Power was quickly shutoff to prevent an electrocution hazard, Reade said, but crews failed to stop 100,000 gallons of raw sewage from discharging into the Monterey Bay.

Reverse emergency calls went out to residents in the area urging against flushing toilets and using water.

Crews fixed the valve by 5:30 p.m. They had hoped to fix it before residents returned home from work, when water use spikes.

Cleaning sewage out of the ocean is impossible, said Scott Kathey, emergency response coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

“From an environmental standpoint, there is nothing we can do mechanically to recover it from the ocean. There is no method for cleaning other than let the ocean assimilate it, allow sunlight to breakdown bacteria,” Kathey said.

“On land you can treat it with bleach and vacuum it up. You can’t do that in an aquatic environment,” he said.

When asked what environmental impact may occur, Kathey said, “It’s hard to say. Obviously the plume is going to spread. Any kind of effects would be long-term.”

Marine animals could develop bacterial infections from coming into contact with the sewage, he said. Luckily, there were no sea otters or seals nearby at the time of the spill.

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