On the scene
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Long Beach Secret

ON THE SCENE: Bill McFarland, human resources manager for oil driller Thums, gives a tour of Island White. In more than 40 years, the operation has not had a single pipeline leak, he said. (Brian VanderBrug / LAT)
ILLUSIONS: From afar, the four islands in the harbor at Long Beach appear to be tropical scenes, complete with palm trees and waterfalls. The islands, built in the mid-1960s, actually are oil-drilling platforms, artfully concealed. (Luis Sinco / LAT)
PUMPING: A worker strides through Island White. Sculptor Herbert J. Goldman designed curving panels to hide the equipment. (Brian VanderBrug / LAT)
DESIGN TREND: To a casual observer, it could pass for an island resort, but this is one of four drilling platforms that produce 32,000 barrels of oil a day just offshore in Long Beach. One historian called them examples of the “aesthetic mitigation of technology,” a mid-20th century design trend that softened industrial structures. (Luis Sinco / LAT)