Environment & Science

Officials in Los Angeles investigate spill at urban oil well

Oil wells near McKittrick, California.
Oil wells near McKittrick, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

Authorities in Los Angeles are investigating a whistleblower's report that the operators of an urban oil well tried to conceal a spill by covering it with dirt.

The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday that the spill — estimated to be from 20 to 40 barrels — was discovered Saturday. The cause is unknown.

Officials found 200 plastic bags filled with oil-soaked dirt they believe were about to be removed. The well, one of a few still pumping within the city, was shut down.

The weekend inspection came after a report that the well's owner, Vida Resources, was attempting to conceal a spill. Owner Chaim Nathan says he plans to abandon the well.

Officials say oil didn't threaten a nearby school but harmful gases may have been released into the atmosphere.