The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has closed several miles of beaches from Ballona Creek south to the Manhattan Beach Pier through at least Thursday, November 30th, while the Los Angeles City Hyperion Treatment Plant in Playa del Rey inspects a pipeline that carries treated sewage five miles offshore.

Department of Public Health officials said they closed the stretch of beaches, which includes Dockweiler State Beach in Playa del Rey, beginning early Tuesday, November 28th, as a precaution to protect the health of visitors to the beaches during the pipeline inspection.

“Given the responsibility of [the Department of] Public Health to protect the health of Los Angeles County residents and visitors to our beaches, we are taking precautionary measures to close the beaches that may be most affected by the treatment plant’s assessment operations,” said Jonathan Fielding, Department of Public Health director and health officer.

Hyperion Treatment Plant officials closed down an outfall sewage pipeline in order to assess the structural conditions, evaluate its reliability, estimate its remaining durability and determine measures to ensure usability, Department of Public Health officials said.

Divers inspected the interior of the pipeline to look for crevices in the structure and at the joints, said Alfonso Medina, Department of Public Health director of environmental protection.

The plant annually inspects the exterior of the outfall pipeline, but this is the first time the interior of the pipe has been inspected since it was built in 1960, Medina said.

During the inspection, the diverted sewage fluid from the pipeline is being sent to another pipeline that runs one mile out to sea, officials said.

The department has a “very extensive monitoring system” of the ocean water in place while the inspections are conducted, Medina said.

Department of Public Health officials said they worked with the City of Los Angeles to coordinate efforts to assess the potential impact of the sewage diversion on the surrounding beaches.

“There are a lot of different agencies that have come together to ensure it is done as safely as possible,” County Supervisor Don Knabe’s spokesman David Sommers said of the inspection project.

But with the potential for effluent from the pipeline to come onto the shore during the project, Public Health officials chose to close the stretch of beaches to help protect the health of beachgoers, he said.

“We would rather err on the side of caution and public safety and will actively monitor the beaches and ocean water to ensure safe water conditions,” Fielding said in announcing the closure of the beaches.

Sommers added that it’s a difficult decision to have to close beaches but it’s necessary to take precautionary action when public health is concerned.

“There’s never a good time to close beaches but we’d always rather be on the safe than the sorry side,” Sommers said.