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Wastewater leak stops, but health officials close 4 N.Y. beaches

By Jordana Ossad, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Three Staten Island beaches and one in Brooklyn are closed
  • NEW: Water samples from the Brooklyn beach show elevated levels of bacteria
  • NEW: The other beaches are closed "in an abundance of caution"
  • A fire at a wastewater treatment plant caused a leak into the Hudson River

New York (CNN) -- Four New York City beaches were closed Monday, but wastewater from a nearby treatment plant has stopped discharging into the Hudson River, city health officials said.

A four-alarm fire at the North River wastewater treatment plant triggered the spill into the river Wednesday morning. The blaze began in the plant's engine room. The plant stopped discharging into the river Saturday afternoon, officials said.

Recent water quality samples from Sea Gate in Brooklyn showed elevated levels of bacteria related to the untreated sewer discharges, according to a statement from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

Such levels were not found at three other beaches -- South Beach, Midland Beach and Cedar Grove Beach on Staten Island -- but the Health Department, "in an abundance of caution," closed them as well.

The beaches will remain shut to swimming and bathing until officials determine that is safe to return.

Earlier, the city's Department of Health had recommended that swimmers avoid the four beaches but authorities didn't officially close the beaches until Monday.

Popular Coney Island Beach was unaffected as of Monday evening. More than 50 outdoor pools were also open.

All employees at the plant were accounted for following the incident, and no one was injured, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway told CNN affiliate WPIX.

The plant was dealing with intermittent issues related to the fire but is still operational. It is responsible for treating 120 million gallons of wastewater a day on Manhattan's west side.

 
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