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Pipe bursts, oil spill on Los Angeles streets

May 16, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Crews sopped up the remains of about 10,000 gallons (nearly 38,000 liters) of crude oil that sprayed into Los Angeles streets and onto buildings early Thursday after a high-pressure pipe burst.

A geyser of crude spewed 20 feet (6 meters) high over approximately half a mile (nearly a kilometer) at about 12:15 a.m. and was knee-high in some parts of the industrial area of Atwater Village before the oil line was remotely shut off, said Fire Capt. Jaime Moore.

A handful of commercial businesses were affected, as well as a strip club that was evacuated.

Firefighters and hazardous materials crews responded. Several roads were closed.

Four people at a medical business were evaluated with respiratory complaints, and two people were transferred to a hospital, authorities said.

By dawn, an environmental cleaning company had vacuumed up most of the oil. 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.

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.

The 20-inch (50-centimeter) pipe burst at a transfer pumping station along a pipeline that runs from Bakersfield, California, to Texas, Moore said.

The company that runs the line, 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.

Update hourly