Residents in Atwater Village in northeast Los Angeles woke up Thursday morning to find crude oil flowing down their streets. A 20 inch wide, above-ground oil line ruptured around 1 a.m., sending a geyser of oil 20 feet into the air according to local reports. The oil has coated a half-square-mile area of the mostly industrial neighborhood.
Oil in some areas was reported to be knee-high. According to current estimates, 10,000 gallons of crude oil poured onto the streets before the line could be remotely turned off. Two people were sent to the hospital after they reported feeling nauseous. People at the scene said that the smell of oil was very strong.
The Fire Department and a hazardous materials team remain on the scene. Several businesses — including a nearby strip club, which was evacuated during the spill — have reported damages. The exterior of the strip club was coated in oil from the spewing pipe. Cars parked near the site of the spill have also been affected. Although the pipeline was shut off within 10 minutes of emergency crews reaching the scene, oil continued to flow for 45 minutes.
The AP reported that Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott says there is no “visible evidence” that the oil has made its way down storm drains, but that it was possible that oil had gotten under manhole covers. If oil does end up in the storm water system, the oil will soon appear in the Los Angeles River, and soon after that in the Pacific Ocean. According to the L.A. Times, emergency teams are using sand to try and keep the oil from spreading.
CREDIT: A.P. Images
California’s most devastating oil spill was back in 1969, when 100,000 barrels of crude spilled into the Santa Barbara Channel — an event that helped spark the modern environmental movement.