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That funny smell: 4.5mn-gallon sewage spill shuts Washington beaches

That funny smell: 4.5mn-gallon sewage spill shuts Washington beaches
Power glitches at the two biggest sewage treatment plants in Washington state's King County have resulted in the uncontrollable discharge of millions of gallons of wastewater into the ocean, causing several beaches to close.

Three million gallons (over 11mn liters) of water mixed with feces and other waste was accidentally released from the West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in King County, Washington, after a backup pumping system failed due to a technical malfunction on Friday, the Washington Department of Ecology said.

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The water was flowing out for about half an hour before the “unauthorized discharge” could be stopped. The raw sewage was rerouted to an emergency outfall near North Beach, the department said.

In another spill on Thursday, 1.5 million gallons (5.6 million liters) of sewage was dumped into Puget Sound after a similar power failure disrupted the operation of the Renton Wastewater Treatment Plant for about an hour.

It was reported that a no-contact with water alert had been issued for nine beaches in the King County, but was later updated to refer to only North and South Beaches in Discovery Park, Seattle’s largest public park.

The department said it had launched an investigation into possible violations of water quality permits issued to the facilities.

Those who venture to take a dip in contaminated water risk contacting a range of infections, such as gastroenteritis, skin rashes and others, but so far there have been no reports of ailments resulting from the incident.

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