Parachute Creek spill: Day 27

This aerial view was captured in a flyover provided by EcoFlight. It depicts the Parachute Creek leak site looking east shows orange fencing that indicates trenched areas associated with the ongoing investigation, as well as part of the pipeline corridor where 6,000 gallons of liquid hydrocarbons were recovered. Pipelines in the corridor cross under the creek. (Photo by Christopher Tomlinson)

This aerial view was captured in a flyover provided by EcoFlight. It depicts the Parachute Creek leak site looking east shows orange fencing that indicates trenched areas associated with the ongoing investigation, as well as part of the pipeline corridor where 6,000 gallons of liquid hydrocarbons were recovered. Pipelines in the corridor cross under the creek. (Photo by Christopher Tomlinson)

Latest news:

Benzene found in groundwater 10 feet from Parachute Creek

Benzene found in test wells 10 feet from Parachute Creek
State still says there is no sign the creek is contaminated

Pipeline leak highlights threat to groundwater

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Today Bob Arrington* has more information for us. Click here for Bob’s drawing.

Bob explains his drawing:

“This is the sketch I made after the information started coming that the stream was an influent stream. I put my flow lines approximate to some of the trenching with stream flow inland. When they get the two flows coming together in the trench, pressure head equalizes (ΔP=0) and water fills to water table level. I showed this to Christy Dimond [KKCO-11 News] at the interview and pointed out the stream drop to the Colorado River and that the stuff getting into the ground water has to come out somewhere. Seeing the Potentiometric Map gives a good possible breakout point – just below the narrows (drop in stream elevation that the “u” shaped 5376 elevation opens toward, with flow arrow pointing generally that way). Notice 5376 occurs at the red arrow between yellow pipelines. Surprisingly it could escape both ends of the main trench at 5376. If the creek drops 2 feet through the narrows, it will intercept the 5376.”

Please note on the bottom of the drawing, Bob points out the elevation of the Colorado River is 5060 feet and the elevation at the Williams gas processing plant is 5400 feet. The elevation drop from the plant to the Colorado River is 340 feet. So, even though the contaminated groundwater may indeed be flowing away from Parachute Creek at the site of the underground plume, it is ultimately flowing downhill toward the Colorado River.

Fiona Lloyd (RSPN Alliance) sends us a screen capture of a map from the Colorado Division of Water Resources. The map shows surface water hydrology and water wells. The upper left top corner is the location of the Williams Parachute Creek Gas Processing plant. The green dots are water wells – lots of them.

To date:

This week, sampling results from one of three new monitoring wells located 10 feet from Parachute Creek showed benzene levels of 1,900 to 4,100 ppb (parts per billion).

Last week, water tests from three monitoring wells, about 30 feet from Parachute Creek, showed benzene levels ranging from 5,800 ppb to 18,000 ppb.

Benzene is a known carcinogen. The EPA and CDPHE health standard for allowable levels of benzene in drinking water is 5 ppb.

The investigation into the underground plume has not identified an active source of the leak. COGCC investigators are focused on an area around an above-ground valve set for a 4-inch-diameter natural gas liquids line from the Williams Parachute Creek Gas Processing Plant. A recovery trench was excavated last week in the target area. The highest levels of benzene were found in a monitoring well closest to the trench. Investigators are looking into the possibility there may have been “historic releases” that occurred over a period of time in the vicinity of the valve set and the recovery trench.

According to Williams, the flow of water and hydrocarbon liquids that is forming the toxic plume has slowed as of Friday, March 29.

The underground plume of hydrocarbons is reported to be 405 feet by 170 feet by 14 feet deep.

Almost 180,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater and about 6,000 gallons of hydrocarbons have been recovered.

Governor Hickenlooper has not commented publicly on or visited the site of the Parachute Creek environmental disaster.

Garfield County Commissioners have not yet commented publicly on or visited the site. Oil & Gas Liaison Kirby Wynn has visited the site.

Members of the media have not been allowed in to the site.

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*Bob Arrington is a retired engineer and the Battlement Mesa citizen representative on Garfield County’s Energy Advisory Board (EAB). He also represents the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and the Battlement Concerned Citizens.

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One Comment on “Parachute Creek spill: Day 27”

  1. Fiona Lloyd Says:

    Please come to the EAB tonight at Rifle Library. COGCC and Williams will be there and we need to ask questions – such as “How is it even remotely possible that you can’t find the source of this toxic crap?”

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