Mistake at treatment plant causes 1,500-gallon mishap

A malfunction at Crescent City's wastewater treatment plant caused a spill of about 1,500 gallons of treated fluid early Wednesday.

The spill prompted the city to shut down the beach directly in front of the plant as a precaution.

City workers noticed the spill at about 6:30 a.m., according to Public Works Director Eric Wier.

A valve on the plant's digester was left in the wrong position, which caused it to overflow, Wier said. Much of the liquid, which is 95andndash;98 percent water, was caught by the plant's containment system, but some made its way into the storm drain system, he said.

During the treatment process, the digester breaks down solids into liquids, Wier said.

The beach will remain closed for 48 hours "just to be on the safe side," Wier said. He added that he is in the process of drafting a report about the incident and will notify the state as well as the City Council.

"Any time we are dealing with a sanitary sewer overflow we notify the California Emergency Management Agency, the regional water quality control board and water resources board as well as Del Norte County Public Health," Wier said. "We do feel our response was very effective ... in containing the vast majority of the spill."

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com.