Sewage spill leaks into bay overnight

February 18, 2009 11:04:54 AM PST
A nasty mess has been spilling into San Francisco Bay all night. Thousands of gallons of sewage poured into the bay from the water treatment plant at Fort Baker, in Marin County. Warning signs have been posted telling people to "Stay away" at Swedes Beach, Horseshoe Cove and Rodeo Beach.

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The leak came from a pipe that was four feet underwater Tuesday night. Before the tide came in workers at the Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary District were able to get a good look. They determined corrosion created a two and a half inch hole in the pipe which enabled thousands of gallons of sewage to make its way into San Francisco Bay.

"The contractor was unable to stop the leak given the force it was coming out. And so at this point the contractor will do some work [on Wednesday]," said Omar Arias, from the Sausality-Marin City Sanitary District.

The contractor was waiting for a special part, and for low tide, so the leak wasn't expected to be fixed until noon Wednesday. Sewage was spewing at a rate of 200 gallons per minute, 12,000 gallons per hour. By the time repairs are done, as much as 300,000 gallons of sewage is expected to have leaked.

"About 60 percent of the solids in something like that has already been removed from the normal sewage, but there is still a high bacterial load and that poses a significant risk to human contact," said Arias.

That is why, warning signs and barricades have been placed along the shoreline at Fort Baker and Sausalito. The warnings are expected to last at least for the next few days.

A biologist said the fact this happened during a storm is a good thing. The rain and wind should help flush the sewage out to sea.

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