ATWATER VILLAGE (CBSLA.com/AP) — A geyser of oil sprayed onto buildings and puddled in knee-high pools of crude in L.A. streets after a valve on a high-pressure pipeline failed Thursday.
A 20-inch pipe, owned by Plains All American Pipeline, ruptured just before midnight Wednesday in the 5100 block of San Fernando Road, next to a strip club, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
About 10,000 gallons of oil spewed approximately half a mile across the industrial area of Atwater Village, Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.
The pipe ruptured due to a leaking valve and sent oil up to as high as 50 feet into the air, CBS2’s Louisa Hodge reported.
KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports Moore said the scene was a mess when crews first arrived.
“Keep in mind this was a 20-inch pipe, a thousand pounds of pressure behind that pipe, and we had approximately 20 feet of oil spraying in the air,” Moore said.
Oil flow to the above-ground line, which runs from Bakersfield to Texas, was shut off around 1:20 a.m.
“Inspectors went right to the failed valve. They knew right away where the problem originated,” Moore said. Determining exactly what caused the failure would take some time, he said.
Four people at a medical business a half-block away were evaluated with respiratory complaints, and two women were transferred to a hospital in stable condition, Moore said.
The public was advised to avoid the area.
The city issued a statement late in the day saying remaining oil may cause extreme odors, and it warned people who live in the area to keep their homes well-ventilated to lessen any irritation or health problems.
Quick-thinking workers used sand from a nearby concrete company to build a makeshift dyke. “They created a pool and were able to hem in much of the oil,” Moore said.
By dawn, an environmental cleaning company had vacuumed up most of the mess. Crews put down absorbent material to sop up the remaining crude and then used high-pressure hoses to wash the streets with a soap solution.
Firefighters and hazardous-materials crews responded, along with representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies. Several roads were shut down and were expected to remain closed for much of the day.
Officials previously said 50,000 gallons had spilled, but that number was revised downward after the vacuuming began.
Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said there was no “visible evidence” that the oil entered storm drains, which empty into the Los Angeles River. But he said it’s possible that some oil seeped under manhole covers.
There was no evidence that any oil seeped into storm drains, officials said.
Plains All American Pipeline issued a statement saying it would work to figure out what caused the failed valve and to stem the effects.
“Our primary focus remains maintaining the safety of all involved and mitigating environmental impacts,” the statement said.
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