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Hazardous-materials crews investigate seeping oil in Wilmington

Hazardous materials crews are investigating seeping oil in Wilmington, but there is no immediate threat to residents.
March 18, 2014 7:49:19 AM PDT
Authorities responded to the 1200 block of North Neptune Avenue at about 1 a.m. Tuesday and found crude oil seeping to the surface from underground. Crews were on scene investigating the source of the leak and what caused it to occur.

There was no immediate threat to residents. The street was closed while crews worked on the leak. Residents in the area were notified and allowed access to and from their homes.

"That's our first concern is the children, they walk here, there's schools close by, and we're just making sure that they're safe," said Ricardo Pulido, Coalition for A Safe Environment.

Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles County hazardous-materials crews determined that Phillips 66 owns two pipes underneath North Neptune Street, including the one that leaked.

"That's through dimensions of the line itself, the distance from the curb in the center of the street, the depth of the line," said Don Ellis, L.A. County Fire Health Hazmat.

The oil is contained to about a 20-by-50-foot area and has not reached groundwater or storm drains, said Janet Grothe, a spokeswoman for Phillips 66, one of several companies with pipelines under the street. Phillips 66 crews from the nearby refinery worked to contain the leak and plug it.

"I'm interested and I'm going to do a little more research on who's responsible for inspecting all these pipelines," said Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro).

The Office of the State Fire Marshal oversees the inspections of 750 lines in the area. By law, each must be inspected once every five years. A representative told Eyewitness News that Phillips 66 may have acquired this particular line from another company that did not purge the line of fuel after taking it off-line. Investigators were trying to determine when that pipeline was last active and inspected.

Rep. Hahn said the Wilmington neighborhood is constantly at risk.

"This community, probably more than any other community in Los Angeles, lives daily with the threat of one of these pipelines leaking [or] exploding," Hahn said.


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