LA County to Investigate Sewage Spill as Residents Call for Better Infrastructure, Leadership

By Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte
Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.
January 11, 2022Updated: January 12, 2022

CARSON, Calif.—Los Angeles County will investigate the cause of the 8.5-million-gallon sewage spill in Carson, as well as evaluate the condition of the county’s sewer systems amid residents’ calls for better leadership and infrastructure in the city.

On Jan. 11, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion (pdf) introduced by Supervisors Holly J. Mitchell and Janice Hahn to investigate the cause of the Dec. 30 sewer pipe collapse in Carson, where 8.5 million gallons of untreated sewage flooded residential streets and flowed through the Dominguez Channel and into the Los Angeles Harbor.

The sewer pipe incident comes just months after the city of Carson declared a local state of emergency in October over a foul smell emanating from the Dominguez Channel that caused residents headaches, nausea, and vomiting for months.

Mitchell, whose District 2 oversees Carson, acknowledged the city’s infrastructure issues, as well as the impact that the Dominguez Channel odor incident has had on residents.

“First, to the residents of Carson whose homes were impacted by the spillage, I want you to know that we will do everything we can to help you recover,” Mitchell said during the board meeting. “The last three months have been unacceptable for your community after the Dominguez Channel odor incident, and now eight million gallons of sewage has spilled into your front yard.”

Mitchell said that the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts—a public agency that treats wastewater and turns it into reusable recycled water—conducted a routine video inspection of the pipeline on Dec. 1 and found “no cause for immediate action as a result of the inspection.”

“I’m anxious to hear from the sanitation department what the routine inspection might have missed and how we can learn for the future,” Mitchell said.

The motion directs several county departments to work with the sanitation districts to investigate the pipe collapse and report back to the board on Jan. 25; it also directs the Department of Public Works to continue monitoring dissolved oxygen levels within the Dominguez Channel to ensure the treatment of the spill doesn’t impact the Dominguez Channel’s recovery from the odor-related incident.

Epoch Times Photo
Businesses and residents near The Dominguez Channel have been experiencing a foul odor from the water in Carson, Calif., on Nov. 4, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The county’s sanitation districts completed all permanent repairs to the damaged pipe on Jan. 10, according to its spokesperson Bryan Langpap. In the next two weeks, the agency will focus on cleaning and repairing the remainder of the damage done to the residential areas that were flooded.

No lingering odor has been detected following the sewage cleanup, and the level of dissolved oxygen in the Dominguez Channel was reportedly normal on Jan. 10, according to Langpap.

Some Carson residents called for better infrastructure and leadership in response to such incidents.

Carson resident Ana Meni told The Epoch Times in last week’s interview that she was disappointed in officials’ handling of infrastructure-related issues.

“City leaders need to take this seriously, and they need to be considerate of us as a community,” she said. “Be upfront with us. Is it safe to live here or is it not? Is it the infrastructure that disintegrated? Is this is going to be a continuous problem?”

Meni said the city does infrastructure assessments and should have the answers for current and prospective city residents to make better life decisions for themselves.

“The residents have the right to know what is truly going on in our environment,” Meni said. “Let the residents make this decision of whether they want to live here, but also be forthcoming to people who are considering buying in the city of Carson.

“Gentrification is happening like crazy in Carson. It’s misleading to people who are potentially thinking of moving here, not knowing the environmental disasters that are just lurking below the surface.”

Hahn, along with Supervisor Kathryn Barger, introduced a similar motion (pdf) the same day that instructs the Department of Public Works to assess the condition of sewer systems across the county.

The department has to report back to the board in 30 days and present a list of infrastructure repair projects scheduled to begin construction within two years, along with project timelines for completion.

“This is not only a good time for the sanitation districts to address their aging infrastructure, but also a good time for us as a county as well,” Hahn said during the meeting.