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California Prison Fined $40,000 for (Another) Raw Sewage Spill

California Prison Fined $40,000 for (Another) Raw Sewage Spill

California water officials fined the California Men’s Colony State Prison (CMC) in San Louis Obispo $40,000 for a 20,000 gallon raw sewage spill into Chorro Creek on January 27, 2008. This was just the latest such spill into Chorro Creek, which drains into environmentally sensitive Morro Bay.

The spill was traced to the failure of a backup power generator during a power outage. But CMC has “priors.” When its older sewage plant spilled 220,000 gallons of waste into Chorro Creek in 2004, and a records search revealed 450 documented spills in the previous five years, CMC was fined $600,000 [see: PLN, Nov. 20007, p.2]. Since then, a multi-million dollar plant upgrade has been completed.

In this latest episode, the toxicity of the pollution was mitigated by high winter creek flows. Nonetheless, concerned county officials closed Morro Bay, a state-designated marine protected area, for four days as to water-contact recreation and indefinitely as to sport shellfish harvesting. CMC could have been fined $200,000 under state law.


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