Oil Burst Paves Slippery Slope

Crude drowns half-mile of Los Angeles neighborhood

Environmental cleanup crews were stuck with a sticky problem early Thursday morning. (Rufous52/ThinkStock)
Photo: Rufous52/ThinkStock Environmental cleanup crews were stuck with a sticky problem early Thursday morning. outside online crude oil oil slick oil spill glendale california sunoco atwater geiser knee deep vacuum power wash

A 20-inch pipe burst just after midnight Thursday at the West San Fernando Road crude oil transfer pumping station in Glendale, California. The oil spill-turned-geiser reached heights of 20 feet, gelled in knee-deep pools, and coated surrounding streets in 10,000 gallons of crude before the line was remotely shut off.

Environmental cleanup crews burned the midnight oil vacuuming the mess, turning soap and high-pressure hoses on the most stubborn slicks. 

Meanwhile, two people were sent to the hospital for burst-related injuries, and four employees of a local medical business complained of respiratory issues. Several businesses were variously affected, a section of Glendale was shut down, and a nearby strip club was evacuated.

Local fire department spokesperson Erik Scott couldn't rule out contamination of local waterways. In an interview with the Associated Press, Scott said that while there was no "visible evidence" of oil entering storm drains, oil could have slipped under manhole covers, beneath which water flushes into the 52-mile Los Angeles River. Talk about pouring fuel on troubled waters.

This is not the first time this year that exactly 10,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from a U.S. pipeline. Back in March, a Sunoco pipeline leak contaminated Oak Glen Nature Preserve outside Cincinnati, Ohio, with crude oil pooling in a football-field-length marsh—150 meters from the Great Miami River. 

Officials originally reported a 50,000-gallon spill, but upon vacuuming realized their estimate was 400 percent too high. Still, that's enough crude oil to fully fuel about 310 Volkswagen GTIs upon distillation, and nothing to scoff at.

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