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Broken Sewage Pipeline Endangers Holiday Plans in South Florida

Aired June 26, 2000 - 2:42 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: Beaches in South Florida closed last week by that broken sewage pipeline may force thousands residents and visitors to celebrate the Fourth of July someplace else. Officials in Miami-Dade County are meeting to determine if they can lift the ban on the 25-mile stretch of beach by Independence Day.

CNN's Pat Neal brings us up to speed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAT NEAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These beautiful beaches lure tourists from all around the world. But this is not the welcome sign South Florida wants for the Fourth of July holiday: swimming and fishing still off limits along more than 20 miles of Miami beaches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we planned this weeks ago, we got a motel room on the beach. So it was kind of disappointing.

NEAL: Crews are working around the clock to repair the area's main sewer line. It ruptured last Tuesday, after a contractor working on a marina drove a piling into the pipe. Millions of gallons of raw sewage poured into Biscayne Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're trying to excavate around the pipe so we can have the divers go in and start making the repairs.

NEAL: For now no more sewage is flowing into the bay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The water quality is getting better.

NEAL: Some businesses along Miami Beach's trendy Ocean Drive say they've even benefited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's been great for us for business, because we have a pool. And our business has increased by about 10 percent. And food sales have gone up.

NEAL: But on the beach, a different story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water looks great, but no business.

NEAL: About half this scuba class canceled. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe they're a little bit nervous about diving in the toilet bowl of Miami.

NEAL: And some hotels having July Fourth weekend cancellations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people have been trying to cancel.

NEAL: With the water quality improving, county officials are meeting to determine if they can lift part or all of the swimming and fishing ban before the July Fourth weekend. If not, they'll encourage tourists to enjoy the beach and jump into the pool to cool off.

Pat Neal, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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