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50,000 gallons of oil spill in Los Angeles after pipe bursts

Thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled over a half-mile area in Los Angeles due to a break in an above-ground pipeline on Thursday, the city fire department said.

No injuries were reported, the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement. The pipeline was shut off remotely, and the incident shut down a section of the Atwater Village area of the city, a local NBC affiliate reported.

Workers clean up an oil from a pipe that burst causing about 10,000 gallon of crude oil spill onto streets covering an area of about a half-mile, May 15, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Getty Images
Workers clean up an oil from a pipe that burst causing about 10,000 gallon of crude oil spill onto streets covering an area of about a half-mile, May 15, 2014, in Los Angeles.

An earlier statement from the fire department said the spill was 1 million gallons, but it subsequently revised the estimate down to 50,000 gallons, which would be just over 1,000 barrels. Local media later reported that had been revised down again, to 10,000 gallons.

"Oil is knee-high in some areas," the fire department said. "A handful of commercial businesses are affected."

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The break in the 20-inch above-ground pipeline was at a pumping station in an industrial area near San Fernando Road in Atwater Village, the fire department said.

Video footage from the NBC affiliate showed oil spraying about 20 feet in the air from the leak, which happened at an oil-gathering station situated next to a strip club, The Gentlemen's Club.

Neither the fire department nor media reports said which company operates the pipeline.

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However, an online U.S. Department of Energy map showed that the main oil pipeline running through Atwater Village was the Plains West Coast Pipeline run by Plains Pipeline, a unit of Plains All American. A company spokesman did not immediately return a call outside normal business hours to check if this was the pipeline from which the crude spilled.

L.A. Battalion Chief David Spence told local television that the line ran from California's main oil-producing region near Bakersfield to a storage facility in Long Beach, near a cluster of refineries including those run by Phillips 66, Valero and Tesoro. It was unclear which, if any, of the plants would be affected by the disruption.

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An oil pipeline of 20-inch diameter is medium-sized by industry standards and would generally transport about 200,000 barrels per day based on average rates. There was no immediate information about the specific capacity or throughput of the line.

By The Associated Press