WILMINGTON (CBSLA.com) — A broken pipe caused crude oil to seep onto the streets of Wilmington overnight Tuesday, officials said.
Hazmat units with the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to reports of oil flowing through cracks in the asphalt on the 1200 north block of Neptune Avenue at 7:00 p.m. Monday night, according to fire officials.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict reports neighbors started seeing liquid Monday afternoon and at first believed it to be water. They later contacted the fire department after realizing the liquid was, in fact, crude oil.
“You never expect something to start bubbling out of the concrete,” resident Naomi Payan said.
Once the oil flow on the street was stopped, various county health and hazmat services were dispatched to the location, along with crews to repair the broken pipe and cap the source of the leak, officials said.
It was not immediately known how many gallons of oil have flowed from the leak as of early Tuesday morning.
Crews reportedly drilled small holes in the street to get a better look at the seepage in the neighborhood, which is adjacent to the Wilmington Oil Field – one of the largest oil fields in the continental United States – and near several refineries, the Associated Press reported.
A Phillips 66 spokesperson said it appears the oil is only under the street right now and not underneath homes in the neighborhood. They have also determined the oil has not leaked into the ground water or local water source, Benedict reported.
“We have identified a hole in one of the pipelines, and we are working to determine who the owner is of that pipeline,” Phillips 66 worker Janet Grothe said.
The pipe that is leaking is estimated at about seven feet below the ground.
Officials suspected Monday’s magnitude-4.4 earthquake in Westwood as a possible cause, but the official cause has yet to be determined.
“I’m not an engineer, but I’m wondering if the earthquake jarred one of these pipelines,” said Congresswoman Janice Hahn, who represents the 44th District, which includes the city of Wilmington.
The seeping oil did not pose a threat to the public, Los Angeles Police Department Lt. B. Roberts said.
Additionally, Hazmat specialist Don Ellis is saying there is minimal cause for health risks, as they continue to monitor air quality and prevent the oil from seeping into storm drains.
“As far as the health concerns, it’s very minimal,” Ellis said.
Local residents had been notified of the incident and would be allowed access to and from their homes, but the street would otherwise be closed, Roberts said.
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