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    Wet Whoops When Workers Rupture Water Line, Create Geyser; Approx. One Million Gallons Of Water Lost; Mixes With Some Petroleum Type Material, Floods Area Of Stearns St. Near Mira Mar Ave. (b/w Lakewood & Redondo)

    (April 15, 2003) -- Workers from a firm under contract to the City of LB Water Dept. were replacing a 12" water line today when a major 30" main somehow ruptured, causing a water geyser that spewed roughly one million gallons of water, mixed with what appeared to be some petroleum type material, into the area of Stearns Street near Mira Mar Ave. (between Lakewood Blvd. and Redondo Ave.) Stearns geyser, April 15
    LBFD photo

    LBFD Public Information Officer Wayne Chaney tells the events began at about 11:00 a.m. and were spotted by LBFD Engine Company 4 while leaving the nearby LBFD fire training center.

    "While turning left from Stearns St. onto Lakewood Blvd., Engine Co. 4 spotted the geyser in their rear view mirror, arrived on scene within moments, assessed the situation, and saw what appeared to be oil along with a petroleum odor," PIO Chaney said. "At the outset, the water geyser was roughly 40 feet high," he added.

    Stearns geyser, April 15
    LBFD photo
    Shutting the geyser down wasn't easy. It took about 190 turns by two individuals to turn the valve off for one 30" line...and the Water Dept. reportedly had two of the 30" mains shut down.

    Chaney said parts of the area had a layer of black film remaining. He said measurements were conducted for volatile organic compounds in the air and on the ground.

    Chaney said the petroleum product appeared to be in the ground; the area affected is near the eastern foot of Signal Hill. Details were not immediately available on how much, if any, material flowing down storm drains contained petroleum type product.

    Stearns geyser, April 15
    LBFD photo

    Water service in the area of Stearns St. between Lakewood and Redondo was expected to be disrupted for about eight hours, although service on some individual streets continued.

    LBFD PIO Chaney said among the agencies notified were LB Health Dept., LBPD, LBFD, LB Gas Dept., LB Public Works, CA Fish and Game, U.S. Coast Guard, LB City Attorney and LB Oil Properties.

    Following today's immediate clean up, further measures may be taken including removing some parts of ground and grass and laying down new sod.

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