Parachute Creek spill: Day 13


Post Independent:  Parachute Creek spill is ‘status quo,’ Williams says
Some locals unhappy about lack of public notification

The Daily Sentinel:  Notification questions raised as leak probe continues

Denver Post:  Parachute spill uncontained, prompting call for buffers

Upstream:  Williams continues clean-up at mystery ‘seep’

KKCO Channel 11 News – Grand Junction:  UPDATE: Leak contaminates 60,000 gallons of groundwater

KJCT Channel 8 – Grand Junction:  Parachute fuel leak will not affect drinking water

Channel 9 News – Denver:  Colo. oil spill no threat to water, officials say

Channel 4 News – Denver:  Officials Say Oil Spill Near Parachute No Threat To Water

DAY 13WHAT WE HAVE BEEN TOLD about the Parachute Creek spill/plume as of March 20

The flow has NOT been stopped. According to Williams spokeswoman Donna Gray: “There is free-flowing hydrocarbon underground.”

The source is unknown. There are underground pipelines and tanks in that area.

The flowing hydrocarbon liquid has not been identified. Williams spokesman Tom Droege said, “We don’t know what it is. It looks like a lighter hydrocarbon, like a condensate, visually, but it has been taken to the lab for analysis.”

The spill/plume is 60 feet from the banks of Parachute Creek which flows into the Colorado River.

CO Water Quality Control Division Director Steve Gunderson said that based on its volume, the leak is “a significant release” and impact to Parachute Creek remains “a real possibility.”

The location of the spill/plume is along CR 215, 4 miles north of Parachute between Parachute Creek and the Parachute Creek Gas Plant, on a pipeline right of way owned by Williams Midstream and WPX Energy (two related companies).

Groundwater contamination was discovered by March 8, while Williams employees were excavating in preparation for construction of an addition to Williams’ natural gas processing plant on Parachute Creek.

The COGCC, the federal EPA, and CO Dept of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) were notified immediately.

Garfield County was notified immediately – or not – depends on who you talk to.

The town of Parachute was notified on March 13, which is a breach of notification protocols put in place in 2008.

The news did not reach the media until March 16. Local landowners potentially affected by the spill were not notified and found out about it in the media.

The underground hydrocarbon plume is 200 feet by 170 feet in circumference, and about 14 feet deep. Imagine the Glenwood Hot Springs pool (405 ft X 85 ft), cut it in half and put those two halves side by side and make it 14 feet deep.

About 86,500 gallons of contaminated groundwater have been removed.

A total of 139 barrels, or 5,800 gallons, of “oil” have been vacuumed.

As of 4:45 p.m. on March 19, the spill had not been reported on the COGCC website.

The COGCC has issued cease-and-desist orders against Williams and WPX and ordered measures be taken to protect Parachute Creek. They are preparing to issue Williams a “Notice of Alleged Violation” and demand a long-term cleanup plan.

CO DNR spokesman Todd Hartman said the agency also is planning to issue a notice of alleged violation.

EPA spokesman Matthew Allen said the agency is working on issuing an enforcement order outlining steps it wants taken to protect the creek.

Colorado Wildlife Federation said this incident shows the need for the COGCC to establish safe operational setbacks from waterways, action they postponed five years ago. CWF also emphasized better water monitoring might have led to the earlier detection of the contamination.


Everything we have been told and are being told has come from government and industry “spokespersons” all of whom have a vested interest in suppressing the volumes, facts, and overall seriousness of the situation. They are certainly withholding information. We are probably being lied to.

There was an initial cover up by Williams Midstream and WPX Energy, Garfield County, COGCC, and federal EPA officials after the spill/plume was discovered on March 8.

Contamination from the spill/plume has already severely impacted groundwater and will eventually reach Parachute Creek. We’re not stupid.

Parachute Town Manager Bob Knight says locals haven’t expressed much concern. Actually local landowners have expressed their concerns to members of the media. Or, maybe Parachute residents are like Silt residents and when it comes to oil & gas drilling they gave up on their town government a long time ago because town officials have their heads so far up industry’s ass-ets.

This spill-plume-leak-seep is NOT “status quo.” This is not “just another spill.” This is not business as usual. This is an ongoing underground flow of unidentified hydrocarbon-chemical liquid. This has never happened before. It is not in the past. It is not contained. It has not been stopped. It is happening right now.

The media is being kept out of the spill/plume site. Industry and government officials are doing everything they can to control the flow of information and downplay the situation to get the media to go away.

We must hold Williams Midstream, WPX Energy, COGCC, EPA, CDPHE, and Garfield County accountable.

We must do everything we can to spread the word and keep this story alive.

We need a helicopter!

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3 Comments on “Parachute Creek spill: Day 13”

  1. Fiona Lloyd Says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wells in production are “metered” for want of a better word? So that royalties can be apportioned?

    In this case, are Williams saying that they haven’t noticed a discrepancy between production at a well and at the delivery point to a pipeline? If so, that’s a lot of royalties people are being cheated out of. It can’t possibly be a leaking pipeline. I mean, they know how much they put in (don’t they?) and the pipeline distributor pays them on that, so if there was a discrepancy there, then it would be noticed.

    Or are Williams saying this stuff isn’t coming from a well that’s being metered ie it’s coming from a well bore? You know, from around one of those ultra safe cemented from top to bottom can’t possibly contaminate anything casings? And they have No Idea which bore? It could be travelling between bores?

    Or have they been underreporting production to account for the missing “stuff” and been hoping that it wouldn’t turn up?

    None of these scenarios fills me with a deep sense of ease.

    The vast majority of wells on Silt Mesa are less than 100′ deep. A spill like this would devastate this community.

    But at least I can be confident that Colorado is one of the toughest regulation enforcers in the country and doles out fines like jelly babies at Halloween. Oh wait. It isn’t.

  2. richard schwabe Says:

    Look for the nearest “INJECTION” Well pad to the spill and most likely that is the source of the spill. It’s not rocket science!! If you pump thousand of gallons of “production” water back down the well hole, It’s got to come out somewhere eventually. Their should be a cease and desist order on all “INJECTION” Wells.

  3. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    It really is hard to believe they don’t know where the flow is coming from. It’s like Fiona says they measure every marketable drop. But an injection well is like an underwater volcano. Water moves even when it’s in “brine” form. Anyway, we all know they’re not telling us everything and they’re not telling us the truth about stuff and they never will. That’s why we have to keep this story alive!

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