Beaches from Venice Beach to Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey were closed to swimming and surfing Tuesday, August 8th, by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials after sewage spilled into Ballona Creek from a Culver City pump station.

Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the water when pumps reportedly failed at the Braddock Pump Station in Culver City, county public health officials said.

The spill into Ballona Creek, which flows into the ocean south of Marina del Rey, has caused some contamination in the water and county public health officials are running tests to see how much, said Jonathan Fielding, county Department of Public Health director.

A two-mile stretch of beaches from Sandpiper Street at Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey to Ironsides Street on Venice Beach remained closed to swimmers Wednesday, August 9th.

County lifeguards have put up signs along the beaches to warn people not to get in the water.

The beaches were expected to stay closed for at least a day or two while health officials test the water to make sure it is safe, Fielding said.

“We want to make sure that public health is protected,” Fielding said. “The partial results (of tests) now are comforting.”

A much larger, two-million-gallon spill occurred at Manhattan Beach in January, but that incident was different because the spill went primarily into the sand, said Dusty Crane, county Department of Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman.

“This one is a little different, in that it went directly into the water,” Crane said of the Ballona Creek spill.

Culver City Public Works officials said the spill early August 8th occurred after a “series of sewage pump failures” that began Sunday, August 6th, at the Braddock Pump Station, which handles sewage from both Culver City and Los Angeles. The average daily flow through the station is about 1.2 million gallons.

Culver City Public Works crews attempted repairs on the failed pumps Sunday and Monday, August 6th and 7th, to try to bring the pumps back online.

But the station experienced a “catastrophic failure” at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, August 7th, when raw sewage flooded the station dry well, resulting in the remaining pump going off-line, Culver City Public Works officials said.

Crews were able to contain the spill to the adjacent street using vacuum trucks, but the sewage flow increased throughout the night, the Culver City officials said.

The equipment on hand was unable to handle the volume and the sewage flowed onto adjacent streets and into the storm drain system that empties into Ballona Creek, officials said.

After crews made repairs, the Culver City pump station was operational and the storm drain and adjacent streets were cleaned by mid-afternoon August 8th.

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