Spill of soapy green liquid prompts 4-hour HazMat response

A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department truck moves quickly to scene. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Firefighters specially trained in dealing with hazardous materials spent their Thursday morning dealing with a “moderately toxic” soapy green liquid that got into the storm drains on Creekside Road.

Shortly before 8:15 a.m., members of the Health HazMat unit of the Los Angeles County Fire Department descended on the backlot of a car wash on Creekside, just east of McBean Parkway.

Workers trying to rinse out a 55-gallon drum released a dry chemical called a surfactant with the force of water used, said HazMat Specialist Don Ellis.

“They were going to use the drum for some other purpose,” he said.

The subsequent “green liquid” was seen running into the storm drain, according to one Fire Department spokesman and one witness.

Ellis said: “They didn’t handle it right because the water rehydrated the dry substance.”

Ellis described the chemical as “mildly toxic” while a Fire Department spokesman described it as “moderately toxic.”

Ellis said he is not sure how much of the soapy chemical got into the storm drain, noting, “We recovered as much as we could.”

HazMat crew members, who suited up in their familiar protective clothing, cleared from the scene at 12:30 p.m., after about four hours, Ellis said.

Joining them for some of the cleanup were city environmental workers.


“Our Environmental Field Specialists Jonathan Martinez and Jeff Adams were contacted to assist,” city spokeswoman Mayumi Miyasato said Thursday.


“City staff did properly clean it up and used a vactor (a type of vacuum cleaner) truck to remove any particles that were near the catch basin,” she said.


Although some of the liquid entered the catch basin, none of it made its way into the Santa Clara River watershed, said Laura Jardine, identified as the city’s project technician in Environmental Services.


“A little bit of water did make its way into the (catch) basin,” she said.


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