10,000-gallon crude oil spill in Atwater Village looked ‘like a lake’

10,000 gallons of crude oil from a burst pipeline spilled over a half-square-mile area in Atwater Village on Thursday.


Firefighters have revised the size of a crude oil spill early Thursday in Atwater Village down to 10,000 gallons, after initial estimates put it at 50,000 gallons.

The spill occurred shortly after 1 a.m. after a 20-inch above-ground pipeline burst in an industrial area in the 5100 block of West San Fernando Road, sending a geyser 20 to 50 feet into the air, said Los Angeles Fire Capt. Jamie Moore.

The geyser spewed oil onto the nearby Gentlemen’s Club, forcing evacuations and trapping 10 vehicles parked in the lot, Moore said.


Four businesses near the ruptured line were affected by street closures, officials said.

Crews were able to shut off the pipeline remotely, but by the time that was done, the spill had created pools of oil, some about 40 feet wide and knee-deep in some places.

“It looked like a lake,” Moore said.

Two people at a nearby medical center who complained of nausea believed to be related to the spill were transported to a local hospital, he said.

The Fire Department had first estimated the size of the spill at 1 million gallons, then revised that figure down to 50,000 gallons. Later in the morning, readings taken by oil tankers vacuuming up the spill put the size closer to 10,000 gallons, Moore said.

Firefighters were able to largely contain the spill after contacting a nearby cement company and using loads of sand to cordon off the oil with berms, creating a dam-like structure. Tanker trucks were then able to use hoses to suck up the oil from the resulting “lagoon,” Moore said.

The cleanup effort is expected to take 24 hours, he said. Most of the oil had been sopped up before 6 a.m., but crews still needed to use diaper-like sponges to sop up what could not be vacuumed. After that, workers planned to use high-pressure washers and a soap solution to break up the remaining oil, Moore said.


It was not immediately clear which company owned the pipeline.