Dec 11, 2006

Beach Spill Penalty Reduced

Authorities are expected to settle next week on a $2.5 million penalty against a wastewater treatment agency for a massive sewage spill at Manhattan Beach, Calif., in January this year. The fee will also settle over five years worth of sanitary indiscretions.

Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts will be responsible for paying the fine, a reduction from the $4.6 million proposed in July, and it will also cover the various leaks and other violations from January 2001 through September 2006.

According to the Daily Breeze, even though the South Bay spill was the largest single incident covered in the agreement, only a small part of the settlement will stay local.

$2.2 million of the $2.5 million will go toward development of a planned San Gabriel River Discovery Center, an 8.1-acre environmental education facility to be located near the junction of the Pomona and San Gabriel River freeways.

$125,000 will be given to Redondo Beach towards efforts to improve water quality at its beaches just south of the pier. The sewerage agency will also provide $200,000 more in testing and analysis services to Redondo Beach.

The last $50,000 will go to a youth environmental outreach program focusing on Santa Monica Bay's watershed.

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board is expected to consider the settlement at its meeting this week.

The Daily Breeze reported that the settlement is endorsed by the regional board's staff, the Sanitation Districts' board of directors and the Santa Monica Baykeeper environmental organization.

The proposed fee will bring together 93 spills representing 3.3 million gallons of sewage, about 970,000 gallons of which was recovered before reaching waterways or soaking into the ground.

The largest incident on Jan. 15, which lasted into Jan. 16, was a spill of 1.5 million gallons, 65,000 reached the ocean. This spill occurred on a sunny day, rather than during a rainstorm, and was the result of coinciding failures of primary and backup pump control systems at a Manhattan Beach pumping station.

Much of the spill was contained on the beach at spots in Manhattan and Hermosa, but the sand was difficult to clean. The waters were soon reopened, but the sand itself stayed closed for two months.