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The spill May 15 spread oil over a half-mile area in Los Angeles. / KTLA

The 10,000 gallons of oil that spewed onto a Los Angeles street Thursday was swept away in a few hours, but the smell and the concern didn't clear out of Glendale Carpet Center quite so quickly.

"They are cleaning the street a block away, but no one is telling us anything," said Nabil Monajjed, who suffers from asthma and donned a filter mask in his showroom.

Monajjed, who has operated the carpet center from its San Fernando Road site in Glendale for 18 years, said the oil didn't reach his store. But the odor did.

"When I opened, the smell of oil in my showroom was really bad," he said. "I still smell the fumes (hours later)."

Fire department spokesman Erik Scott told USA TODAY the department was working with air quality specialists who were confident that the odor was not dangerous.

"There has not been an issue that requires an evacuation," Scott said. "But it does carry a strong odor."

Scott said a 20-inch pipe burst, sending an oil geyser 20 feet into the air and coating a half mile of local streets. The pipeline was shut off remotely after about 45 minutes, and a hazmat team raced to the scene. The spill was contained with the help of a nearby cement company that provided sand for firefighters to create a lagoon 2½ feet deep. Tanker trucks then sucked up the oil, Scott said.

By dawn, an environmental cleaning company had vacuumed up most of the oil. Crews put down absorbent material to sop up the remaining crude and then used high-pressure hoses to wash the streets with a soap solution, fire officials said..

Monajjed, 60, said he hopes his cleanup is not just beginning. He said he has cranked up the air conditioning and is running air purifiers. Fortunately, he said he doesn't think his carpets have been damaged.

"Are the fumes dangerous?" he said. "You see a hazmat truck and it makes you wonder."

The leak was reported just after 1 a.m. local time. Initial fire department reports indicated 1 million gallons spilled. The estimate was trimmed to 50,000 gallons a short time later, then reduced again as cleanup progressed.

Two women were transferred to a hospital and treated for nausea, Scott said.

A "handful" of businesses, including a nightclub that was evacuated, were affected, fire officials said. The pipe burst at a transfer station along a pipeline that runs from Bakersfield, Calif., to Texas.

Scott said no oil entered storm drains, which empty into the Los Angeles River.

"Business was slow anyway, this is all we need," a disgusted Monajjed said. "We didn't even know there was a pipeline here. We know now."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Oil spill in L.A. causes big stink

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