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Bad pipe caused sewage spill

Slightly damaged piece installed 30 years ago continued to corrode until bursting.

November 10, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

Burbank Public Works officials determined a faulty pipe was the cause of the 30,000-gallon sewage spill Nov. 2 that resulted in beach closures in Long Beach.

When the pipe was installed about 30 years ago, there was an abrasion on the bottom of the outside of the pipe, said Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford.

"It continued to corrode until there was a catastrophic failure," she said.

The replacement pipe was installed last week at South Beachwood Drive between Parkside Avenue and West Alameda Avenue and tested by crews on Monday.

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After videotaping the inside of the pipeline in both directions, no other problem areas were discovered, Teaford said.

"We're hopeful it was an isolated incident," she said. "We'll have everything buttoned up by the end of the week."

Residential plumbing remained unaffected through the repair process.

City officials on Tuesday had yet to determine the final cost of the repairs, which included hiring a contractor to excavate the rupture site, back-filling the affected area, steam-cleaning and pressure-washing the street and traffic control.

The repairs will be paid for by the city's Sewer Fund, which ratepayers contribute to each billing cycle.

"We are always ready to do emergency repairs," Teaford said. "We definitely have the resources in the city so we're prepared for when things like this happen."

The city is unaware of any possible fines it may incur for the seepage into the Los Angeles River Basin, but officials said regulatory agencies often take several years before making final determinations.

Although the health department in Long Beach closed the beach to the public for two days, the coastal region showed no indication of contamination from the spill, which was originally estimated to be 50,000 gallons of raw sewage.

The Los Angeles Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the portion of the Los Angeles River Basin that the sewage rushed into, could not be reached for comment on the status of the cleanup.

The organization was determining whether emergency permits would be needed for the cleanup and sent an environmental compliance representative out to the affected area last week.

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