LOS ANGELES, CA -- Dockweiler State Beach has been closed until further notice after medical waste, including condoms, tampon applicators and hypodermic needles, from a sewer pipe washed ashore.
The closure from Ballona Creek to Grand Avenue was announced at about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday following a report of debris along the shoreline and in the water.
Water at the beach showed excessive levels of bacteria, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said.
El Segundo area beaches were also closed as crews picked up 200 pounds of unsanitary objects.
The medical and other waste had been discharged from the Hyperion Treatment Plant, according to Heal the Bay, an environmental activist and water monitoring group who says they began receiving reports about the waste on Tuesday night.
"If this trash is washing in from the ocean, we can only imagine the amount that's still out there," said Leslie Griffin, a data analyst for Heal the Bay. "We've seen even hypodermic needles out here so people really shouldn't even be going in the sand."
The pipeline that would ordinarily discharge the treated waste five miles offshore was being repaired, Tonya Durrell of Hyperion said.
Durrell said it appears the Hyperion Treatment Plant was overwhelmed during last week's rainstorm, experienced a pump issue, and had to open up a pipe that hadn't been used in years, which dumps just one mile offshore.
"That outfall had not been used for close to 10 years, and so that trash and debris may have gathered there during that time and was flushed out," she said.
For the next five weeks, the Hyperion Treatment Plant will only be using the smaller pipe as repairs are made on the larger pipe.
L.A. Sanitation crews says there are plans in place if another rainstorm comes through, but the last plan, environmentalists say, didn't really work out so well.
"When there are very large rainfall events, they can get such a large influx of water into Hyperion that it basically pushes over where it would normally be captured and so some of those items can make it through the treatment system," Griffin said.
The L.A. County Fire Department has asked the public to stay out of the water and avoid contact with wet sand and any materials that may have washed up onshore until the cleanup effort is completed.
For more information on beach conditions, contact L.A. County's 24-hour beach closure hotline at 1 (800) 525-5662 or visit www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/beach.
City News Service contributed to this report.
Dockweiler State Beach closed after tampon applicators, condoms, needles wash ashore
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