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State Files Suit Against Los Angeles Over Santa Monica Bay Sewage Spills

October 23, 1987

State Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp has filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles for a spate of sewage spills last spring, but he said the state will not press for up to $100 million in damages if the city takes steps to reduce future pollution of Santa Monica Bay.

The suit, which was filed Wednesday, came as no surprise to city officials, who had met with Van de Kamp's staff earlier. But some said they were surprised that Van de Kamp would bother because the city has already begun making massive improvements to its sewage system.

At a press conference Wednesday, Van de Kamp acknowledged the city's moves to protect Santa Monica Bay from sewage damage. But he said the city has acted slowly and needs the extra pressure that a lawsuit will apply.

"The record will show that so far the city has not worked quickly enough," Van de Kamp said in Los Angeles.

Led to Spill

The suit is a reaction to a May 25 electrical failure at the Hyperion sewage treatment plant near El Segundo that led to a spill of nearly 3 million gallons of treated sewage into a pipeline used for overflows.

Most treated sewage is pumped five miles out to sea from Hyperion and dumped in a submarine canyon. But when sewage is dumped through the overflow pipe only one mile from shore, chlorination is required to protect swimmers at local beaches.

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