Bad news out of Los Angeles early Thursday morning: A burst LA pipeline spewed crude oil, drenching streets around the West Glendale neighborhood. The oil was flowing long enough that some areas were covered in a knee-deep layer of the foul-smelling fuel. The pipe was ultimately shut off by remote, which stopped it flowing, and workers with an environmental cleanup company had successfully vacuumed up much of the oil by dawn. The remnants will be absorbed and water-blasted away; the whole process is expected to take about 24 hours.
The pipeline that burst was near a strip club, called The Gentleman's Club, which evacuated some staff along with about 10 customers. The incident obviously a serious impact on nearby businesses, and brought about some worrying health issues for at least four people caught up in the area, who were examined after experiencing respiratory issues. Two were sent to the hospital.
Potential health perils from exposure to oil fumes are not slight. The physical toll of exposure to large quantities of crude oil is pretty well-known — especially so in the aftermath of 2010's catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast, where locals have for years battled grisly health ramifications.
Obviously, this is nowhere near the scale of such a calamity, but it does raise the question of oil pipeline safety. And because the U.S. is so reliant on fossil fuel, it'd be nice to have a little more confidence on that front.
The amount of oil that actually erupted has been revised over the course of the last seven hours, with initial estimates pegging the figure at a completely disastrous one million gallons. That was adjusted to 50,000 gallons shortly thereafter, and as cleanup progressed the much more modest 10,000 gallon figure has emerged.
The company that owns the oil line — and as such would be responsible for its upkeep and safely — has not yet been definitively stated. It's been reported that trucks bearing the markings of Plains All American Pipeline, a Texas-based company, have been involved in the cleanup effort, which seems to suggest their involvement.
Then again, they could just be helping out. But if the pipeline that burst was a Plains pipeline, it wouldn't be the first time one of their lines has gone haywire. They've overseen a pair of oil accidents in Canada, including the Little Buffalo spill, one of the largest in North America.