By CBSLA Staff

EL SEGUNDO (CBSLA) — A 17-million-gallon sewage spill at Los Angeles’ largest sewage treatment plant closed multiple beaches from El Segundo to the southern end of Playa del Rey.

“A power outage at the Hyperion plant last night caused untreated sewage to be discharged into the ocean,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn wrote on Twitter.

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Hahn said beaches were closed to swimming from El Segundo to the Dockweiler RV Park and that “water samples are being tested.”

According to Hahn, 17 million gallons of sewage spilled into the ocean. “I understand that the plant was able to prevent an even larger spill, but we are going to need answers about how and why this happened,” she said.

Hyperion Executive Plant Manager Timeyin Dafeta issued a statement Monday afternoon saying that on Sunday afternoon, the plant “became inundated with overwhelming quantities of debris, causing backup of the headworks facilities. The plant’s relief system was triggered and sewage flows were controlled through use of the plant’s one-mile outfall and discharge of untreated sewage into Santa Monica Bay.”

Dafeta said the 17 million gallons of sewage — about 6% of a daily load — were discharged as an emergency measure through the one-mile outfall to prevent the plant from going offline and discharging more raw sewage. Normally, treated sewage is discharged through the five-mile outfall.

“Thanks to these efforts, and significant equipment improvements that have been made in recent years in partnership with several environmental groups, the amount of flow into the ocean was mitigated and the plant remained online,” Dafeta said.

“These improvements included the reconfiguring of in-plant storm basins to pump sewage back into the plant in cases of emergency; screens were installed on all catch basins to prevent untreated debris from entering the storm drains and out to the ocean; and a Headworks Bypass had been installed to prevent raw sewage overflowing out of the Headworks building and into the street,” Dafeta said.

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It was not immediately clear how long the closure would last.

At Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Del Rey, campers were told to stay away from the water.

“They indicated that we probably shouldn’t get in the water until they get some more information,” said RV camper Cindy Guerra.

People staying at the Dockweiler RV Park were watching the waves from a distance Tuesday morning.

“I actually walked the dog past the sewage plant and saw that it was overflowing into their parking structure,” said another camper, Tony DiGiorgio.

DiGiorgio said the sewage even backed up into the office trailer at the park.

“He told me the toilet was overflowing and coming back out,” DiGiorgio said.

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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)