Raw Sewage Spill at McKinley School Prompts City Responses

Good Samaritan neighbor spurs City response to unhealthy situation

Published : Friday, April 21, 2017 | 9:26 AM

A photograph of the mucky mess was sent to the City of Pasadena's Citizens Service Center, which initiated prompt action, said Good Samaritan Cesar Portillo.

A main sewage line under McKinley Elementary School’s main athletic field in Pasadena broke Wednesday and spilled raw sewage onto the field, prompting school authorities to close the area as a contractor repaired the leak and cleaned up the spill.

Beth Leyden, Acting Public Information Officer at the Pasadena Unified School District, said no students or school staff were on the field when the spill happened and they have not been allowed back since.

Leyden said PUSD’s after-school programs have been advised to use other fields at McKinley until the main athletic field, which borders Oak Knoll Avenue, is reopened.

“The safety and wellbeing of all is a top priority for Pasadena Unified School District and the school leadership team at Mckinley School,” Leyden said.

Earlier, a Good Samaritan who lives across the street from McKinley’s athletic field reported the leak and said he had noticed an “overwhelming stench” in the air about two nights earlier.

Cesar Portillo said he saw maintenance personnel working on the site Wednesday morning. He said he also called the City’s attention to it and got a response from the City’s Code Enforcement office saying they were monitoring the situation.

“As someone who lives next door to the school, I want to make sure that issues like this are taken care of right away,” Portillo said.

Clayton Anderson, Code Compliance Manager of the City of Pasadena, said there was a blockage in the sewage line and the spill happened as workmen were cleaning out the blockage.

Informed by the City’s Department of Public Works about the incident, Anderson said PUSD is taking care of the situation and has hired a contractor to repair the line.

“They are taking care of it,” Anderson said. “I don’t know exactly how long it’s been out there.”

He added his staff will go out and inspect the area to determine if there was a violation of the City’s ordinances.

“Normally, a fine is issued only if there is non-compliance. But if you’re complying and you’re working and getting it done as quickly as possible, we don’t normally issue a fine,” Anderson said.

Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena’s City Health Officer, said in serious raw sewage leaks, people who come in contact with the spill could contract diseases. Her department’s priority was to advise people to avoid getting near the spill and for PUSD to close the area as the broken line was being repaired.

“The cause or source of the spill has to be addressed,” Goh said. “We don’t want anybody coming into contact with the sewage other than trained professionals who know how to take precautions to not get exposed.”

Goh also encouraged Pasadena residents to immediately report cases like this to City authorities so they could respond immediately.

Code Compliance Manager Anderson said residents can call the Public Works Department, the Pasadena Police Department at (626) 744-4241, or 911 if it’s a significant issue, or the Pasadena Citizen’s Service Center at (626) 744-7311.

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