Thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled over a half-mile area in Los Angeles due to a break in an above-ground pipeline on Thursday, the city fire department said.
The oil, spraying from the 20-inch pipeline at a pumping station in an industrial area near San Fernando Road in Atwater Village, submerged parts of the neighbourhood forcing some business to close.
"Oil is knee-high in some areas," the LA fire department said.
Who operates the affected pipeline has not been confirmed. However, according to maps available at the US Department of Energy’s website, the main oil pipeline running through Atwater Village, northeast LA, is the Plains West Coast Pipeline run by Plains Pipeline, a unit of Plains All American.
The pipeline delivers oil from California’s main oil-producing region near Bakersfield to a storage facility in Long Beach, near a cluster of refineries including those run by Phillips 66, Valero and Tesoro. It was unclear which, if any, of the plants would be affected by the disruption.
The 20-inch in diameter pipeline is a medium-sized pipeline by industry standards and would generally transport about 200,000 barrels per day based on average rates. There was no immediate information about the specific capacity or throughput of the line.
No one was injured in the spill, though some residents were evacuated, complaining about respiratory problems. The leak was stopped remotely.
Early estimates of the LA fire department spoke about a million gallons of crude oil escaping into the environment. However, the estimates were later revised with the LA fire department saying only 50,000 gallons might have been spilled. Local media later reported the estimates had been revised down even more, to 10,000 gallons.
Video footage from the NBC affiliate showed oil spraying about 20 feet in the air from the leak, which happened at an oil-gathering station situated next to a strip club, The Gentlemen's Club.