Parachute Creek spill: Day 28

COGCC Executive Director Matt Lepore (l) and Williams VP & General Manager Dave Keylor respond to questions about the Parachute Creek spill at Energy Advisory Board meeting - Thursday night in Rifle

COGCC Executive Director Matt Lepore (l) and Williams VP & General Manager Dave Keylor (r) respond to questions about the Parachute Creek spill at Energy Advisory Board meeting tonight in Rifle

Breaking news — Highlights of EAB Meeting – April 4, 2013

At tonight’s EAB meeting in Rifle, Dave Keylor (Williams VP & Gen Mgr—Piceance) revealed that on January 3, 2013, they had a significant event (spill) at the valve site where they are currently excavating and which is the focus of the current COGCC investigation into the Parachute Creek spill-leak-seep-plume. At that time Williams had determined that less than 25 gallons of fluids had leaked at the site so therefore it was not reported.

Keylor said Williams is storing the contaminated soil on site in containment tanks. They are also storing some of the contaminated groundwater on site in tanks, as well as trucking some out.

In answer to a question about the depth of the underground plume of contaminated water and hydrocarbon liquids below the surface of the ground along the east side of Parachute Creek, Keylor said that they do not know if the groundwater is contaminated below a depth of 18 feet. Nor do they know if the groundwater is contaminated between the depth of 14 feet and the surface of the ground.

Williams and the COGCC have NOT taken water samples at the elevation where Parachute Creek and the water table are the same, which is downstream from the Williams Gas Processing Plant. There’s a big bend in Parachute Creek but it does not show up on this Potentiometric Surface Map (it was visible on the map shown at the meeting). If the big bend did show up on this map it would be about where the little locater square map is on the bottom by the legend. Nor are they taking water samples at the town of Parachute’s municipal water intake, which is downstream as well.


Williams subsidiary fined for other Parachute Creek watershed problems

View the documents pertaining to Colorado Water Quality Control Division civil fine imposed against Bargath, LLC


Agency looks to close gap in rules on pipelines

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, is considering regulating all gathering pipelines, which would close a loophole applying to many lines in Colorado and other states.


Today Bob Arrington* has another drawing for us along with his explanation.

Bob Arrington:  This is why the valve could leak in cold weather and not appear to leak in warmer weather
B-Arrington-williams seep valveIf the valve on the liquids line is not leaking now, maybe it was in the cold weather. The valve [in this next photo] is mounted on an above ground riser.

Valve Picture

(COGCC photo)

If this line proceeds straight from this offset, the cold temperatures can contract the line and put stress on the valve flanges. This could cause a weather induced drip that “cures” itself when temperatures become warmer. The offset works as an expansion joint and temperature ranges cause flex movement. Just saying —


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.


*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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4 Comments on “Parachute Creek spill: Day 28”

  1. richard schwabe Says:

    Where are they dumping the contaminated groundwater and hydrocarbons? Down another injection well site!

  2. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Richard, one morning last week I saw two semi tanker trucks pull off the Silt exit one after the other. They came from the west. Parachute?
    They both headed up CR 311. And the injection well at Valley Farms D-3 came to mind for some reason …

  3. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Bob, now I know why our outside faucet drips when we first turn it on in the spring — and then the drip just magically disappears.

  4. Beth Strudley Says:

    It alarms me that the COGCC would be second runner up to test the water. We had a myriad of tests prove that the COGCC’s water testing is also bogus. Do not let them test. You need to get someone flown in from out of state that is not on retainer to these companies or the COGCC to run a fake test. Just sayin’.

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