Posted by Max Bottomtime on November 27, 2006 at 17:47:07:|
From the Daily Breeze;
Pipe check will close miles of South Bay beaches
As main outfall is inspected, Hyperion plant will route wastewater closer to the coast. Shores from Ballona Creek south to the Manhattan Beach Pier will close.
By Lee Peterson
Miles of local beaches will be closed this week as a precaution when the Hyperion Treatment Plant near LAX starts releasing its massive flow of processed wastewater just 1 mile from the coast, in 50-foot-deep waters.
The plant normally sends 300 million-plus gallons a day of effluent 5 miles offshore, but is shutting down that main outfall Tuesday through Thursday, so scuba divers for the first time ever can enter and inspect the concrete conduit for wear and tear.
The county Public Health Department will post as unfit for swimming and surfing all of Dockweiler State Beach and the north half of Manhattan Beach -- from Ballona Creek south to the Manhattan Beach Pier -- for those days when the 1-mile outfall is still being used. Some of that stretch of beach could be opened up earlier, if the extensive monitoring shows no signs of bacteria contamination from the effluent.
However, if the testing shows elevated levels of bacteria, the beach closures could extend beyond the last testing day Thursday.
Authorities say the only thing that will delay the inspection project now is a significant rainstorm.
The project originally was scheduled to start Oct. 3, but was postponed when many local officials were taken by surprise. Their reaction not only prompted the city's Public Works Board to move the date back, but to also improve its outreach efforts.
Most of the initial concerns have been allayed.
"I really feel the city has been completely transparent, and we think they are being prudent in closing the beach from Ballona to the Manhattan Beach Pier," said Mark Gold, executive director of Heal the Bay. "I think they are doing the right thing."
El Segundo Mayor Kelly McDowell, however, still has many concerns.
"I think there are a lot of unanswered questions," McDowell said.
It's been warm recently, and there may be more beach-going than sanitation officials had anticipated, he said. Also, the "off season" is prime surfing time in the South Bay.
Hyperion's plan to increase its use of chlorine during the inspection might be fine to kill pathogens, but McDowell says he is concerned about its effect on marine life.
He also wonders if unmanned robots could have done the same job, and negated the need to shut down the 5-mile outfall.
The city of Los Angeles' main sewage treatment plant says it needs to inspect the 12-foot-diameter concrete outfall, specifically the joints where the segments connect to each other on the ocean bottom. Officials said divers are the best way to do that.
The plant's flow will be redirected and then divers will enter the 5-mile outfall from the plant end, and check probably just the first half-mile from within. That first part of the pipe is the most crucial, said Lauren Skinner, Public Works Board spokeswoman.
The pipeline's exterior is checked every year, but this is the first internal inspection since it was built in 1960. The 5-mile outfall releases effluent at a depth of 270 feet. The plant's original 1-mile outfall now serves only as a backup. It is used once every three months briefly, just as a test.
"Our expectation is that everything is really fine," Skinner said.
Manhattan Beach Mayor Nick Tell said his City Hall has been kept informed and that the project and beach closures seem necessary.
"At least they are very focused on making it as short as possible," Tell said. "It's more of a precaution than anything else."
David Sommers, press deputy for South Bay Supervisor Don Knabe, said, "There's no good time to do this, but this is really the best time."