Four miles of fouled Orange County coastline will remain closed to swimmers through at least this afternoon after 580,000 gallons of raw sewage gushed from a Laguna Beach pump station early Wednesday, health officials said.
Beaches from Crescent Bay to Camel Point, two miles north and south of the spill, were contaminated with waste. The first results from 15 to 20 water samples taken Wednesday showed evidence of fecal contamination along the shore near Bluebird Canyon Drive, said Larry Honeybourne, program manager with the environmental division of the Orange County Health Care Agency.
"We need a couple days' worth of clean samples before we can open the locations," Honeybourne said.
If bacteria levels remain unsafe, ocean water could remain off-limits through Saturday or later, he said.
The spill is the worst in the county in at least nine years. A failed clamp on a sewer main's air release valve caused 60,000 gallons of sewage to foul Laguna Beach's shoreline in April.
Laguna Beach hired the engineering company Dudek to evaluate what caused a 12-inch pipe to break sometime before 2 a.m. Wednesday, City Manager Ken Frank said. The engineers are expected to submit a report early next week.