Parachute Creek spill: Day 51

Parachute_GW_Benzene_IsoconcentrationClick here for the most recent map:  Benzene Concentrations in Groundwater & Isoconcentration Map 4-19-13

Breaking News:  COGCC transfers jurisdiction of Parachute Creek spill to CDPHE

COGCC update — April 27, 2013

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have mutually agreed that primary jurisdiction for response and remediation at the Parachute Creek spill will shift to CDPHE over the next several days.  This shift doesn’t reflect any material change in the circumstances at the site, the nature of the spilled hydrocarbons, or any change in what’s currently understood about impacts to groundwater or surface water.  It is the result of a legal interpretation that classifies the spilled materials as ones over which CDPHE has primary authority.

The COGCC and the CDPHE have both been involved with the response to the spill from the outset.  Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes Section 25-8-202(7) and an August 1990 Memorandum of Agreement between the agencies, COGCC is responsible for responding to discharges of exploration and production waste to waters of the state, except discharges governed by a Colorado Discharge Permit System permit.

After careful analysis of the function of the natural gas liquids (NGL) line in the process stream at the gas plant, the agencies have concluded that hydrocarbons released from the NGL line do not constitute E&P waste.  Therefore, primary responsibility for the investigation and remediation oversight will transfer to CDPHE, with COGCC providing support as needed.  The agencies will continue to work together closely at the site, with CDPHE in the lead position.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also been involved in this site, and will continue to be part of communications with both agencies and the operators.

At the site, operators have finished installing three systems to mitigate the low levels of benzene that have been detected in a section of Parachute Creek. Those systems have started operating and operators and regulators will be gauging their effectiveness.
[end of update]


In other news –

Oh look, it’s that Peggy Tibbetts again. Second time this week. What a busybody!

Source: EPA probes contamination cause at Parachute Creek
Locals being contacted for interviews about the case

PARACHUTE, Colorado — The Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division is contacting area residents to learn more about the contamination of Parachute Creek, according to a woman who is one of those in touch with the agency.

Peggy Tibbetts, whose “From the Styx” Internet blog chronicles the ups and downs of the area oil and gas industry, confirmed on Friday that she has been trading telephone calls with Special Agent Alina Vazquez of the investigations division in the Denver EPA office …

When FTS finally reached Tibbetts for comment she shrugged. “I don’t know why the EPA wants to talk to me. It’s not like I make this stuff up.”


Please come to the meeting in Parachute on Monday night! The more the merrier …

Garfield County plans community meeting in Parachute

Monday, April 29, 2013
6:00 p.m.
Grand Valley Fire Protection District Building
0124 Stone Quarry Road
Parachute, CO

Click here for driving directions

For more information go to Community Resources.


Williams Answers for Parachute website announced “completion of phase 1 of the air sparge systems designed to remove volatile organic compounds from groundwater and surface water.” and don’t miss the video Air Sparing Explained.

They are posting water sample results at Testing Results & Other Info

Also at Upcoming Presentations, note that Williams will also be making a presentation at the EAB Meeting, Thursday, May 2


And the questions just keep coming …

[Note: You can also submit your questions in advance of the Monday meeting to Kirby Wynn, GarCo O&G liaison at:]

What happened to the Dept of Wildlife? We haven’t heard much from them since mid-March. Shouldn’t they be involved with these other agencies in this process?

Does the standard of 5300 ppb for a non-drinking water stream protect the trout?

Is Williams using any sort of dispersant, or introducing any additional substance or chemical to the contamination site or the creek in their efforts to deal with the benzene and other NGLs already present?

What about the benzene clean-up workers?

Were the workers given benzene awareness training prior to beginning work at Parachute Creek?

Were the workers given self-contained supplied air respirators and proper training on the use of the respirators before the benzene clean-up work began at Parachute Creek?

Why isn’t the federal OSHA invited to the public meeting on April 29?

Do the Garfield County Commissioners care about these exposed workers, or are these workers nothing more than “well-field trash?”

Why haven’t we heard anything from Garfield County BOCC?

Garfield County has oil & gas mitigation funds. Are they in contact with and working with local landowners along Parachute Creek to mitigate the impacts of this environmental disaster?

Is anyone testing water wells downstream from the groundwater contamination plume?

Who is safeguarding the interests of the public?

If 80% of the benzene evaporated into the air, wouldn’t the air monitors at the nearby gas processing plant have sounded an alarm? Are they monitoring air quality?

Have they tested for BTEX compounds? If not, why not?

Is Williams using any sort of dispersant, or introducing any other substance or chemical to contamination site or the creek?

What are the real benzene numbers, not those provided by the COGCC, or Williams, or the testing companies that they retained when they swooped into the valley? How about some independent testing?

When will Williams be fined? And how much?

How are they going to clean up this mess? What’s the plan?

I invite you to submit your questions in the comments section. Or send your questions to:

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One Comment on “Parachute Creek spill: Day 51”

  1. Anita Sherman (@MomMakingChange) Says:

    Where’s Associated Governor’s of Northwest Colorado (AGNC) the government agency funded by county and local taxes. Not a peep out of Executive Director Scott McIinnis, or Board chair, Mike Samson. You’d think Rio Blanco, Mesa, Moffat, Garfield, and Routt Commissioners and municipalities would be working together to find a proactive public awareness campaign by now. Nothing. Zippo. Silence! Our tax dollars going to support legislation protections to allow these industries to poison us for profit!

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