Sewage-affected courtrooms reopen 

Five courtrooms at the San Francisco Hall of Justice reopened Thursday after being flooded with raw sewage late last week.

The problem began at about 7 p.m. last Thursday when a bed sheet was flushed down a toilet at the county jail, located in the floors above the courtrooms, according to the sheriff's department.

A sheriff's spokeswoman said Thursday that her agency has still not determined who was responsible.

The five courtrooms, located on the second and third floors, were closed Friday through Wednesday for cleanup and biohazard testing. In some areas, the sewage was two inches deep.

Court cases were shifted to other courtrooms during the cleanup.

Costs for the cleanup and testing will be split between San Francisco and the state of California, because of a joint-occupancy agreement for the Hall of Justice.

Philip Carrizosa, spokesman for the state Administrative Office of the Courts, said the total cost for cleanup and testing will be "$20,000 or less" and that the state will pick up most of the tab.

Carrizosa said all of the public areas affected have been tested and are free of E. coli. One back hallway on the third floor tested positive and is still cordoned off, he said.

John Updike, assistant director of the San Francisco Real Estate Division, estimated that San Francisco will pay about $1,250 for the cleanup, including some overtime.

Updike said some tile and carpet areas might have to be replaced. He estimated that could run between $20,000 and $40,000.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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