East Bay Municipal Utility District has been fined $314,000 for spilling 10.6 million gallons of raw sewage into the San Francisco Bay last winter. This was the largest sewage spill the Bay has endured in nearly 10 years.
The incident was caused by a power outage in the wasterwater treatment plant in West Oakland during a heavy rain storm. The backup power supply was not maintained, and therefore when the pumps went out, sewage started backing up into a collection system. Sewage eventually overflowed out of pipes in three spots. An estimated 9.1 million gallons flowed into Temescal Creek near Interstate 880. There were also spills in the Oakland Inner Harbor, and the parking lot of a hotel in Emeryville.
According to the Centre Daily, neither the Utility District nor regulators told the public of the spill. Spokesman Jeff Becerra stated that the company was not required to make an announcement.
Due to safety concerns, the utility district did not take water samples until the day after the storm, at which time the sewage had already washed away. At that point, there was no contamination detected.
The Utility District has not decided if it will contest the fine. That last spill of this size occurred in the 1990’s when 50 million gallons of sewage leaked into the Bay from San Francisco’s sewer system.