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LAGUNA BEACH : Tests Indicate Spill Was Sewage; Beach Still Closed

October 05, 1994|LESLIE EARNEST

County health officials said Tuesday that preliminary test results indicate the mysterious liquid that gushed into the ocean at Fisherman's Cove from last Thursday through Monday was raw sewage. Further tests are being done.

"The preliminary results show it is of human sewage origins," said Larry Honeybourne, a program chief for the Orange County Health Care Agency's environmental health division. "The question is, where is it coming from?"

Even if diluted by rainfall, Honeybourne said, the water could pose a health hazard for swimmers. A three-quarter-mile strip of beach from Aster Street at the south end of Heisler Park north to Fairview Street will remain closed indefinitely, he said.

"The risk is still a big concern to us," he said.

Beach-goers had complained that contaminated water warning signs hadn't appeared along the beach until Monday although the spill was reported Friday night. City Manager Kenneth C. Frank, who estimated that more than 100,000 gallons spilled, said the delay was a result of a "miscommunication" between a city worker and a Laguna Beach County Water Department employee.

But Frank said Tuesday he is not convinced that the spill contained sewage because one test indicated it could simply have been ground water. Throughout the day Tuesday, the city continued testing its sewer lines but had not uncovered a break, Frank said.

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