Parachute Creek spill: Day 33

Parachute Creek looking north from the bridge in downtown Parachute

Parachute Creek remains at risk for contamination from benzene and unknown hydrocarbons

Contaminated area from hydrocarbons continues to spread

… On Thursday, Williams revealed that a pressure gauge on the valve set was discovered Jan. 3 to have been leaking. But the company says the gauge probably leaked fewer than 25 gallons, and wouldn’t explain benzene having traveled hundreds of feet in groundwater by now.

But Bob Arrington, a member of the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board and a retired mechanical engineer with pipeline experience, says he thinks such a gauge could leak 6,000 gallons in just 4 1/2 hours.

“I know if you lose a pressure gauge it can gush out on you,” he said.

He also said groundwater moves fast enough to explain the benzene’s travel.

Williams spokesman Tom Droege said Monday he can’t speculate about the contribution caused by the Jan. 3 leak. “We’re definitely looking at it, though,” he said.

Bob Arrington explains how a burst pressure gauge could have caused spill plume


Contamination evident on both sides of Parachute Creek
State official says ‘We don’t know the extent of this thing yet’

PARACHUTE CREEK, Colorado — Work crews at the site of a hydrocarbon leak have found evidence that unknown hydrocarbons are present in ground water on both sides of Parachute Creek.

According to an update provided by the state, new evidence of hydrocarbons has appeared in a monitoring well on the south side of the creek, although test results to identify the compounds were not available as of Monday evening …

…. Early reports from the plume site, about four miles up the creek from the town of Parachute, had put the size of the plume at 200 feet by 70 feet by 14 feet deep.

Some unofficial reports have expanded the estimate to nearly twice that size, but a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources said on Monday that any estimate at this point would be sheer guesswork.

“We don’t know the extent of this thing yet,” said Todd Hartman, public information officer for the DNR and the commission.

Crews dig more trenches, add more booms along Parachute Creek


COGCC update — April 8,  2013

The investigation of groundwater impacts continues downstream of the recovery trench and valve box. Additional monitoring wells installed since Thursday extend along the north side of Parachute Creek to a point slightly beyond where the creek turns southwest, a distance of about 800 feet to the east of the primary investigation area.  Some of these wells are within 10 feet of Parachute Creek.  Monitoring wells have also been installed on the south side of the creek.  The eastern-most of these wells and the initial well on the south side of the creek contained a thin layer of liquid hydrocarbons.  Laboratory analysis of the groundwater from these wells was not available as of this afternoon.  Additional monitoring wells are being installed along the southern bank of the creek to the northwest. Tests are ongoing to determine whether the liquid hydrocarbons are similar to those recovered near the primary interceptor trench and above-ground valve set.

Williams has initiated additional response on the north side of Parachute Creek to keep groundwater from entering the creek.  These operations include a series of trenches designed to lower the groundwater level and remove liquid hydrocarbons and contaminated groundwater from near the stream’s edge.

The COGCC is also discussing details of the site with the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

After replacing its absorbent booms in Parachute Creek, WPX conducted laboratory analysis of the spongy boom material that had been deployed over a 10-day span. The results showed the presence of Diesel Range Organics (DRO) at levels from 213 to 349 parts per million with no detections of benzene or Gasoline Range Organics (GRO). COGCC has shared this data with the EPA and CDPHE for informational purposes. The source of DRO is unknown. Two surface water samples — one taken upsstream of the investigation area and one within the investigation area – showed the presence of DRO March 9.  Subsequent sampling at the March 9 locations have not revealed DRO, nor has DRO been detected in any other surface water sampling locations throughout the investigation.

Williams has deployed two additional booms, one upstream of the investigation area and one downstream of any groundwater monitoring wells where hydrocarbons have been detected. The upstream boom was deployed to determine whether any DRO may be entering the site area.

Extensive surface water sampling of Parachute Creek continues, along with visual surveillance for hydrocarbons along the creek.

Local authorities remain involved. Garfield County Oil and Gas Liaison Kirby Wynn, Garfield County Commissioner John Martin, Environmental Health Manager Paul Reaser and Emergency Manager Chris Bornholdt have participated in briefings and site tours along with COGCC personnel. The COGCC and Williams provided a detailed briefing and Q&A for the public at the April 4 Garfield County Energy Advisory Board meeting.

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