Millions of gallons of sewage spill into ocean in Monterey County

MARINA, Calif. -- Nearly 5 million gallons of sewage spilled into the ocean in Monterey County after a filter at a water treatment plant got clogged and the computer system failed to sound an alarm, an official said Monday.

The spill at the facility in the city of Marina started Friday night and an operator stopped it about eight hours later on Saturday morning, Monterey One Water general manager Paul Sciuto said.

"A number of alarms did not get to the operator because of a computer communications' failure, but we still don't know what caused it," he said.

The Monterey County Environmental Health Department said on its website that the closed beaches are Carmel Beach at Ocean Avenue, Monterey Municipal Beach, Lovers Point, Monterey State Beach, San Carlos Beach, the beach at Sunset Drive at Asilomar and the beach at Spanish Bay and Stillwater Cove.

Lab samples were taken Sunday to determine if the area about 110 miles (160 kilometers) south of San Francisco is safe, and results are expected Monday, Sciuto said.

If it rains in the area, the county said it will send an advisory for all Monterey County beaches, advising people not to have contact with ocean water for three days after a storm even if lab results come back negative for contaminants.
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