LB Health Dept. Offers Cautions On Beach Clean-Up
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(January 13, 2005) -- In the wake of a massive raw sewage spill into the L.A. river (previously reported by LBReport.com) which prompted LB's Dept. of Health & Human Services to close LB beaches indefinitely due to extremely high levels of dangerous bacteria, the agency has told LBReport.com that if anyone chooses to take part in a previously scheduled Saturday "Beach Clean-Up" they should take precautions that go beyond simply wearing latex gloves.
In response to an inquiry from LBReport.com, a spokesperson for LB's Dept. of Health & Human Services emailed the following response:
Thank you for inquiring about precautions when cleaning up the beaches during their closure. According to one of our public health physicians, individuals should wear work gloves when picking things up and should stay out of the water. Additionally, individuals should also wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after the clean up, especially before eating or putting their fingers into their mouth and eyes. These precautions are good measures to prevent infections.
On January 10, the LB Dept. of Health & Human Services, via LB Health Officer, Darryl M. Sexton, MD, closed LB's beaches after the City of L.A. confirmed an uncontrolled discharge of 40,000 gallon per hour of raw sewage into the L.A. river since January 9. The LB City Hall advisory indicated that (as of Jan. 10) over one million gallons of raw sewage had gone into the L.A. river -- which drains to LB.
"The City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is initiating daily bacterial testing of local waters. Beaches will be closed until bacteria levels fall to meet State standards. All persons are urged not to swim in local waters until the advisory has been lifted and bacteria levels in the ocean are safe for swimming," the LB Health Dept.'s Jan. 10 release said.
...Bacteria from animal waste, litter, fertilizers, motor oils, decomposing vegetation and other contamination can be washed through storm drains and flow out to the ocean and beaches and can cause illnesses in swimmers who expose themselves to the contaminated water. Following rainfall, bacteria levels in the ocean will remain elevated. People should especially avoid storm drain outlets, river mouths, streams, and lagoons, and should always pay particular attention to any warning signs posted at the beach for their safety.
Although it's not uncommon for some beach closures to occur after a large rainstorm, the volume of raw sewage from upriver L.A. that landed on LB's beaches is much worse...and led LB's Health Dept. to close LB's beaches remain for an indefinite period.
Since June 1998, a 30-minute beach cleanup led by Belmont Shore resident Justin Rudd has taken place nearly every third Saturday. A Jan. 11 mass email sent by Mr. Rudd said "[r]ecent rains have brought lots of trash down the LA and San Gabriel Rivers that has washed ashore in Long Beach" and indicated "bags and gloves" would be provided [and are routinely]...but didn't mention the beach closure and health advisory.
Told by LBReport.com of the sewage spill and LB Health Dept. cautionary statement, Mr. Rudd emailed in reply, "[W]e will be providing latex gloves for the volunteers on Saturday."
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