L.A. River spared in 10,000-gallon Atwater Village oil spill


No crude oil from a 10,000-gallon spill in Atwater Village entered the L.A. River, officials said Thursday as they continued to clean up the slippery mess.

An L.A. County official said it could take a few days to clean up the spill, which occurred shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday in the 5100 block of West San Fernando Road. It sprayed black oil 20 feet into the air and onto the roof and walls of the neighboring Gentlemen’s Club.


FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this post stated two women taken to a hospital were from a nearby medical center. They were employees of Baxter BioScience, a company that manufactures medical equipment.



Nosa Omoruyi, a hazardous materials specialist for Los Angeles County who was on scene, said he got to the spill within an hour and could hear the hissing from the pipeline before it was shut off.

It took about 45 minutes for the oil to stop flowing because of residual pressure after the valve was turned off, fire officials said. The cause of the oil leak was a valve malfunction.

Cleanup crews will be removing asphalt from the parking lot behind the strip club because oil seeped through cracks in the asphalt and contaminated the soil, he said.

The cleanup will take a few days, he said.

Oil came through the roof into the strip club and got on the floor, he said. Some patrons were covered in oil.

Firefighters were able to contain much of the oil by using loads of sand from a nearby cement company to build a dam-like berm, creating a sort of “lagoon” that tanker trucks were able to sip from using their vacuum lines.

The Gentlemen’s Club was forced to evacuate, said Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jamie Moore.


Later Thursday morning, a club manager walked up to police tape, trying to get in, saying he was there all night, got 30 minutes of sleep and came back. He was upset that he could not get in. He declined to be interviewed.

Some 10 vehicles also stuck in the club’s lot because of the oil, Moore said.

Two women from Baxter BioScience, a company that manufactures medical devices and pharmaceuticals, complained of nausea and were taken to a hospital, officials said.

By the time crews were able to shut off the pipeline remotely, the spill had created pools of oil, some about 40 feet wide and knee-deep, in the largely industrial area, the Fire Department reported.

“It looked like a lake,” Moore said.

Most of the oil was vacuumed up by 6 a.m., but more work will be needed to fully clean the spill, he added. He said cleanup crews would use diaper-like sponges to sop up what oil could not be vacuumed up by the tanker trucks.