CA Pipeline Spills Oil Well Water

Friday, February 5, 2016 @ 01:02 PM gHale

Over 2,000 gallons of produced water spilled near the Port of Long Beach, CA, Sunday morning and entered a nearby storm drain after an underground injection pipeline broke, officials said.

On-duty operators at Tidelands Oil Production Co., which operates the onshore portion of the Wilmington oil field through a contract with the city, discovered the release of produced water from a buried injection line on the 1500 block of Pier C Street at Pico Avenue at about 8:00AM on Sunday, January 31, said Kevin Tougas, manager of oil operations for the city’s Gas and Oil Department.

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The production water—which is a byproduct of oil wells—is used in the oil extraction process, according to Long Beach Environmental Health Bureau (EHB) Manager Nelson Ker. He said it is generally brought to the surface during the process.

The water already surrounds the oil/gas deposits underground and ends up commonly managed when workers reinject it back underground, Kerr said.

“The water is usually high in salt content (brine) and may contain hydrocarbons from being around the oil deposits,” he said.

About 50 barrels, 2,100 gallons, of produced water surfaced through the asphalt in a parking lot at the location, with some of it entering a nearby storm drain, Tougas said. There were no injuries and no impact on wildlife, he added. The spill also did not damage any vehicles or flood any streets.

The spill report said about 2,250 gallons of produced water released onto the soil and pavement. The amount of water entering the storm drain remained unknown.
Local agencies responded to the incident, including the Long Beach Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard, the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Health HazMat division, South Coast Air Quality Management District and the city’s EHB.

The EHB inspector, along with the U.S Coast Guard, did not find any issues with the water in the port, Kerr said.

Tidelands personnel were able to isolate the line and the storm drain and notified appropriate agencies, Tougas said. The release ended up contained with no sheen observed at the storm drain outfall, Tougas said.

Workers completed the cleanup that same day, Kerr said. The cause of the leak is still under investigation, officials said.