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West Hollywood : Fuel Leak Forces Evacuation

An underground leak of gasoline and diesel fuel near the RTD bus yard in West Hollywood has made about two dozen Huntley Drive residents sick and forced a handful of them to leave their homes temporarily.

The fuel has been leaking into the water table for about two weeks, spreading odors through the neighborhood. Residents have complained of headaches, nausea and diarrhea resulting from the noxious fumes and at least two have sought medical attention.

Residents contend that the leaking fuel comes from storage tanks sunk below the bus yard, which is located on Santa Monica Boulevard just north of the Pacific Design Center.

RTD spokesman Bill Heard said the company is not to blame for the problem. Ground tests in late August failed to show any trail of fuel between the underground tanks and the neighborhood, he said. The tests found that all of the tanks are sealed, he said. Nevertheless, RTD is pumping about 5,000 gallons of water a day from beneath one Huntley Drive apartment building. The company has carted off 70,000 gallons since mid-October, officials said.

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As a gesture of goodwill, RTD also has put up about a dozen residents in nearby hotels over the last week. Heard said the company has offered to pay hotel accommodations for any residents affected by the leak and will continue to do so until the matter is resolved. For more information, residents can call the RTD Community Affairs Department at 972-4991, or 760-1181 after working hours.


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