Dominguez Channel Mystery Oil Spill

Site Contact:
Jason Musante


Site Location:
Wilmington, CA 90744
NRC#: 962833/962767

On 12/21/10 a large oil sheen was reported in the Dominguez Channel, near Wilmington, CA. The Dominguez Channel is a stream in southern Los Angeles County that empties into the East Basin of the Port of Los Angeles on the Pacific Ocean. It was determined that the oil was entering the channel from the outfall of a city stormwater pump station. Oil was entering the city stormwater system via an outfall from a nearby railroad right-of-way stormwater drainage system. Oil was also observed migrating from the railroad right-of-way onto the yard of a business located approximately 0.45 miles upgradient to the north. Oil from this expression migrated with stormwater into the facility stormwater retention basin, which also outfalls to the Dominguez Channel. EPA responded to contain and recover oil at both locations to prevent discharge to the Dominguez Channel.

After extensive investigation it was determined that the two oil expressions were related to the same source, a 4-inch lateral transfer pipeline that feeds into an 8-inch delivery pipeline to a refinery. The 4-inch pipe was found to have leaked due to corrosion and the pipe casing surrounding it was found to be damaged. This allowed the oil to backflow from the 8-inch line and migrate into the railroad right-of-way stormwater drainage system. EPA has issued a CWA 311(c) Order to the owner of the pipeline.

The PRP is conducting investigations into the extent of oil contamination, remediating oil-contaminated areas, and maintaining the oil collection area at the railroad right-of-way stormwater outfall. The extremely busy rail line moves cargo from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to inland distribution points. Investigation/remediation activities are located on the railroad right-of-way and work can only be conducted during intermittant, short time intervals (approx. 48 hours). The result is that the schedule of investigation and remediation activities has been expanded to 24+ months. Due to this timeframe only periodic summary POLREPS will be produced. For more detailed activity information please refer to weekly report documents under "Crimson Activities" in the "documents" section of this website.