Oil leak forces road closures in Montebello


A pool of oil seeping from beneath a main thoroughfare in Montebello forced several road closures Thursday as crews worked to determine its source, officials said.

Crews were able to contain the oil and cleaned up most of the spill from the road before noon, and there was no immediate threat to human health or safety, said Michael Chee, spokesperson for Montebello.

Both south and north lanes of Montebello Boulevard remained closed to traffic. Nearby Metrolink tracks, where the Riverside and freight lines both run, were not interrupted by the spill.


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A motorist driving on Montebello Boulevard, just south of Olympic Boulevard near the train tracks, had called fire authorities around 6 a.m., likely noticing the strong odor of petroleum, Chee said.

Over the next several hours, the oil continued to ooze onto the asphalt surface forming a large pool. Images from news broadcasts showed city workers surrounding the pool, which appeared to be greater than the length of a nearby pickup truck.

Although officials have yet to determine the exact source of the oil, they believe it is leaking from an underground line.

Montebello has hundreds of oil wells dotting the northern part of the city, according to state data. Though most wells have been capped, dozens owned by companies such as Southern California Gas Co., Chevron and Sentinel Peak Resources remain either idle or active.

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However, Chee said the oil found bubbling up on Thursday did not resemble the thick, black crude oil found at wells but was instead watery and thin.

A spokesperson for SoCal gas said there is no indication that the leak was related to its operations.