El Segundo moves to sue L.A. over massive Santa Monica Bay sewage spill, foul odors
LOS ANGELES — The L.A. Water Department, it’s been rumored, might actually be in the process of buying the San Gabriel River.
But first, let’s discuss the latest environmental and regulatory problems.
The city of Los Angeles was sued Monday by the attorney general of Santa Monica, seeking to recoup the roughly $18 million cost of cleaning up the massive sewage spill that ended up killing hundreds of animals and destroying property in the Santa Monica Bay.
The Santa Monica lawsuit comes a little more than a week after L.A. Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued Santa Monica over the cleanup, alleging that the city didn’t have the authority to clean up the area when it had been found responsible for spilling 22 million gallons of raw sewage into the Santa Monica River in August 2012.
The sewage, which contaminated the water and seeped into the Santa Monica Bay, is the city’s second-largest source of water pollution, and the most expensive. Santa Monica had been ordered to clean up from the spill after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state deemed it a federal Superfund site — a designation given to cities and other public entities responsible for polluting our groundwater and waterways. If L.A.’s suit against Santa Monica is successful, though, the city will not have any chance of saving its money or any chance of being able to claim that the cleanup costs were the result of a Superfund cleanup, because the city has already been declared responsible.
The water department, on its website, claims that the spill has been cleaned up and the public should not be concerned. But the city has yet to confirm whether the sewage is no longer found in the Santa Monica River or if it is, in fact, clean enough that it could be flushed into a nearby sewer trunk.
“The Department of Water and Power has not done a complete cleanup of the sewage that spilled in the Santa Monica Bay,” said L.A. City spokeswoman Nancy Pratt. “The department is working to have it properly stored before beginning a final cleanup at this time.”
The lawsuit is the latest controversy in the