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CNN Today

Raw Sewage Spilling into Ocean in South Florida

Aired June 21, 2000 - 1:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In South Florida, health officials are urging swimmers to stay out of Biscayne Bay. A pipeline broke and millions of gallons of raw sewage now are spilling into the water.

CNN's Pat Neal is at the water's edge -- Pat.

PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the sewage is still pouring into Biscayne Bay right now at a rate of more than 1 million gallons every hour. Now this spill started yesterday when a contractor, who was working on a nearby marina, accidentally drove a piling into the pipeline. It's the only working sewage pipeline from communities in the northern part of the county of Bell Harbor and Miami Beach. And authorities are having problems capping the break.

And they're trying to see if they could revive an old pipeline that's been shut down for more than 30 years, but that's tough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIANA LAMAR, MIAMI DADE WATER AND SEWER: This is a big line, it's a big 54-inch line, and it's raw sewage and it's overflowing into the bay, which is a big problem. And the line is under about five feet of cover. So it's a hard line to get to and it'll be a hard repair to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEAL: Authorities say they can't simply shutdown the pipeline because if they did, raw sewage would back up through people's toilets and also back up through manhole covers and start coming onto the streets of South Florida.

Also, right now, warning signs have been posted all along the beaches for about a 14-mile stretch of the shoreline. Authorities say contamination could cause stomach and intestinal problems, headaches and ear infections. Even so, it hasn't kept some people out of the water that we saw a little bit earlier today.

Authorities are still waiting today, this afternoon, for results of water tests, if those water tests go within the safe range, they say the beaches would still be shutdown for a minimum of two days.

Pat Neal, CNN, reporting live from Miami Beach.

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