At least 1.5 million gallons of sewage have spilled into the Los Angeles River and triggered a closure of all beaches in Long Beach.
Crews worked overnight to contain the fast-growing spill, which occurred about 2 p.m. Monday near 6th Street and Mission Road in Boyle Heights, according to Paul Gomez, a spokesman for the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works.
The leak was finally stopped at 10 p.m., but crews remained at the site to repair the cracked pipe, said Adel Hagekhalil, assistant director of Los Angeles Sanitation. Hagekhalil said as much as 2 million gallons of sewage might have spilled.
“We had tankers working all night,” he said. “We diverted a spill away from Lincoln Heights. We’re continuing to do a bypass of the spill.”
Officials said the top of a sewer pipe collapsed, sending debris into the pipe and clogging it. Sewage overflowed and reached the L.A. River, and headed toward Long Beach.
Public Works officials don’t know what caused the break, but said the major pipe was built in 1929.
“This happening is just a part of the maintenance system,” Hagekhalil said. “Something grows old, you have to repair it or replace it.”
Sanitation workers on Tuesday were building a permanent bypass system to divert flow around the old pipe, Hagekhalil said.
Long Beach officials planned to test samples of ocean water Tuesday morning to determine whether it posed any health risks to the public, said Nelson Kerr, manager of the city’s Bureau of Environmental Health.