April 1 is the day you look closely at all the information, because maybe, just maybe, someone is making a joke. But the alert from the Culver City Police Department was completely serious. “This morning an oil spill started in the area above the Culver City Park. The spill has since spread and is now impacting traffic in and around the intersection of Jefferson Blvd and Duquesne Ave. Both directions of Jefferson Blvd will be affected by this incident, with eastbound lanes of Jefferson Blvd at Duquesne Ave being subject to partial closures. The closure will include left turns from eastbound Jefferson Blvd to northbound Duquesne Ave.”
Fast and attentive response from the police and fire departments helped the oil company and emergency cleanup crews to deploy quickly.
According to Timothy Stapleton of the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, “There was an oil-water leak at the northwest side of the oil field near the Dog Park, and close to the intersection of the Duquesne Ave. and Leash Lane. The oil-water leak originated from Block 31 oil well [at] the Inglewood Oil Field. The leak was discovered around 8:31 am, and estimated to be shut-in shortly thereafter. The oil-water leak travelled down the north hillside slope next toward the Block Gate and traveled along the curb/gutter to a storm drain inlet. The flow rate was low and it is estimated that less than 1 bbl of oil [the industry standard barrel measurement] actually made it into the storm drain.”
Vice Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells noted, “The 95 year old Inglewood Oil Field has a legacy of failures. Yesterday’s oil spill followed a tank leak last Thanksgiving, a methane seepage that led to the Dog Park closure in 2010, and two major toxic releases in 2005 and 2006, among other incidents. Even the deadly Baldwin Hills dam failure of 1963 was attributed to pressurized oil drilling in the field. ”
Stapleton was confidant that “The oil-water mixture was contained and did not discharge into Ballona Creek.”
The company currently operating the oil field, Sentinel Peak Resources, brought in their emergency spill contractors, KVS and Patriot Environmental. Along with SPR personnel they assisted with the cleanup of residual oil along the sloped area and curb/gutter. The “oily solids/debris” was deposited into a container bin, which was labeled and the container has been retained on the SPR site. The crews pressure washed the affected storm drain area and captured the resulting wash water containing residual oil with a vacuum truck yesterday afternoon.
While CCPD estimated that the area would be closed until 6:30 pm, cleanup was completed in the late afternoon.
According to Los Angeles County, all proper notifications were made by the operator and an incident report is being prepared. The Environmental Compliance Coordinator is following up on a root cause analysis and once completed, will explore recommendations for future prevention.
Sahli-Wells, while relieved, was not assured. “Most troubling is the potential for future damage.This aging oil infrastructure sits on top of the Newport-Inglewood Fault line, capable of producing a 7.4 earthquake. How will the tangle of pipes and tanks fare when this fault erupts? Further, fossil fuels are responsible for climate change, which we must urgently address. We should all be concerned for the short and long term consequences of drilling in the heart of a heavily populated urban area.”