About 10,000 gallons of sewage leaked into the Kickemuit River and a portion of Mount Hope Bay on Thursday.
The Department of Environmental Management said a mechanical failure at the Kickemuit pump station caused the leak. It has been repaired.
State environmental officials said there's no public health alert, but shellfishing is off limits until further notice.
Most residents were not aware of the leak.
"It's scary I guess especially since they're not telling people they can't swim in the ocean," said Bristol resident Jamie Browne. "People swim in the ocean all of the time. I would not want my child to swim in the ocean after a sewage leak. That's pretty gross."
State Rep. Ray Gallison, who lives in Bristol, is looking for accountability.
"There should have been more checks and balances if you will so that nothing like this happens again or should happen ever again," he said.
The DEM and the Bristol Sewer Department said they're testing the water daily and will send out an alert to the media when shellfishing is safe again, which could be a matter of days or weeks.