Parachute Creek spill: Day 54

More than 100 citizens and members of the media attended the April 29 public meeting about the Parachute Creek spill

More than 100 citizens and members of the media attended the April 29 public meeting about the Parachute Creek spill

Post Independent
Williams, state officials reassure residents about Parachute plume
But some residents concerned about possible contamination

Aspen Public RadioResidents Frustrated, Concerned About Parachute Plume

KKCO-11 NewsResidents fire questions at Parachute Creek meeting

KJCT-8 NewsParachute Creek Meeting: residents get their chance to ask questions

News Channel 5 –Benzene Contamination Information Meeting Held

Officials try to calm nerves over Parachute Creek leak

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From left: Dave Walker (CDPHE), Unknown (GarCo Public Health), Matt Lepore (COGCC Exec Dir), Jim Milne (COGCC Environmental Mgr), Unknown (COGCC), and Chris Canfield (COGCC Environmental Protection Spec)

From left: Dave Walker (CDPHE); Unknown (GarCo Public Health); Matt Lepore (COGCC Exec Dir); Jim Milne (COGCC Environmental Mgr); Unknown (COGCC); and Chris Canfield (COGCC Environmental Protection Spec)

First of all, THANK YOU to the Grand Valley Fire Protection District for hosting Monday night’s public meeting!

The meeting was halted at 8:12 p.m. with more than a half dozen people with their hands in the air waiting to ask their questions. The meeting announcement said it would begin at 6:00 p.m. It did not say 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. I hope this will be the first of more meetings like this with representatives of government agencies answering questions from the public.  The COGCC, CDPHE, Colorado EPA were represented on the panel. The Garfield County Commissioners and O&G liaison Kirby Wynn were present. The Commissioners did not answer questions. Williams VP and General Mgr (Piceance Div) Dave Keylor was present in the audience and did take questions. Next time they should bring in OSHA and the DOW, too.

This was advertised as a meeting to answer questions. However the presentations from the COGCC and the CDPHE went on until almost 7:30, leaving less than an hour to answer questions from more than 100 people and the media. From the Grand Junction area to Parachute/Battlement Mesa to Carbondale, the people came to hear answers to their questions. It was not a good idea to have citizens walk out in anger with unanswered questions.

Next time if they plan to shut down the meeting at a specific time, then they should say so ahead of time. Cut the presentation to 30 minutes and allow an hour and half for questions.  And please provide a list of names of all the panelists ahead of time for the media. It’s hard to tell the players without a program. (I apologize for not having all the players’ names for this post but I felt it was more important to get this out rather than go digging for names.) And let’s have a sign-up sheet for the folks who know they will be asking questions, and then call on them first.

Two days before the meeting the COGCC transferred jurisdiction to the CDPHE. Therefore Dave Walker, hazardous waste corrective manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) led most of the presentation and Q&A. The CDPHE water quality division is also involved. The COGCC will continue to be involved.

Here’s what we learned from Dave Walker [wherever you see text in brackets that’s me]:

  • The release of hydrocarbons constitutes hazardous waste which is why Walker is in charge of the remediation phase [clean-up].
  • The Parachute Creek spill will take YEARS to clean up. Furthermore, it will take years to deal with residual pockets of benzene.
  • The groundwater and creek contamination zone [which has quadrupled in size since April 4] cannot be determined until after spring run-off, sometime this summer. It’s possible the contamination zone will spread and there may be further contamination of the groundwater and creek.
  • Williams has been and is air sparging the groundwater contamination and creek surface. Currently the benzene and other BTEXs (toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes) are being released into the air. Currently there are no air monitors in place during air sparging. Eventually in mid-May, granulated activated carbon filters will be put in place to filter the BTEXs out of the air bubbles released.
  • The CDPHE will be taking split samples with Williams for water testing, meaning the CDPHE will be conducting their own water tests on samples.
  • Public health and wildlife have not been harmed and there is minimal threat to public health or wildlife from the spill. [But we were essentially told the same thing about creek contamination a month ago]
  • Drinking water wells along Parachute Creek are being tested and can be treated. They are saying that so far the wells have tested clean. Not all wells have been tested, only those wells that the landowners have allowed to be tested. If you have a water well along Parachute Creek BE SURE TO HAVE YOUR WELL TESTED!
From left: Steve Gunderson (CDPHE water quality division); Unknown (CO EPA); and Martha Rudolph (CDPHE Environmental Programs Dir)

From left:  Steve Gunderson (CDPHE water quality division); Unknown (CO EPA); and Martha Rudolph (CDPHE Environmental Programs Dir)

Since the Monday night meeting, Williams has updated their Get Answers page. I haven’t read it carefully, but I can see that some of the answers correspond with answers we heard at the meeting.

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

Walker said they haven’t detected any impact to wildlife or aquatic life and if they do they will bring in the DOW.

I asked:  So you’re taking a reactive approach? Not preventative?

Chris Canfield (COGCC Environmental Protection Specialist) said they are in touch with the DOW on a “daily basis.”

But my source has informed me that they are NOT in contact with the DOW on a daily basis, and the DOW has not been in contact or involved since mid-March.

I asked:  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?

The question caused a scramble to the podium and a brief huddle between Walker, Matt Lepore (COGCC Exec Dir), and the EPA guy (can’t remember his name). I was asked to repeat the question two more times. The final answer was “No.”

I wasn’t satisfied with the answer, made me wonder if they were somehow parsing.

At Williams Answer for Parachute, the response to the question “How are you going to clean up this mess? What’s the plan?” says in part:  “As part of the cleanup, we plan to install a groundwater treatment system designed to remove hydrocarbons such as benzene. We expect this system to be up and running by mid-May, pending regulatory approvals. The system will be constructed to remove hydrocarbons from all impacted groundwater so the water is usable after it is processed …”

In other words, they are working on a plan which will likely be implemented in mid-May.

Perhaps I need to revise my question:
Has Williams used, or are they now using, or will they in the future use any sort of dispersant, or introduce 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? And if so, is this dispersant, substance, or chemical experimental?

Tod Tibbetts was one of the people who did not get a chance to ask his questions. We were told we could come to the podium and ask questions after the meeting ended. However at a ” public” meeting questions should be asked and answered in public.

Tod asked Dave Walker about the fine. The fine has not yet been determined. The CDPHE is still looking into the numbers and the totality of the spill. In other words, the dates, the amounts, and the source provided by Williams are still under investigation.

Meetings like this tend to be like blind men describing an elephant. Everyone has a different perspective. This is my perspective. There are several more above in the news stories. Please note, John Colson will provide a complete report of the meeting in the Wednesday edition of the Post Independent.

CDPHE is accepting questions and comments from the public. Call or send your questions to:

David Walker, Hazardous Waste Corrective Action Project Manager
(303) 692-3354
Or toll free 1(888) 569-1831, Ext 3354
david.walker@state.co.us

Hazardous Materials and Waste Mgmt Division
Colorado Dept of Public Health and Environment
4300 Cherry Creek Dr. S.
Denver, CO 80246

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Attention readers:  In the upper right corner, underneath the new ticker, there is a quick link to all posts related to the Parachute Creek spill

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One Comment on “Parachute Creek spill: Day 54”

  1. Carl Mc Williams Says:

    WOW: DID I HEAR CORRECTLY?

    DID MATT LEPORE, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE COLORADO OIL & GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSON, PUBLICLY STATE, (AIRED AT 10:00 PM, 4.29.13 – ON CHANNEL 8 KJCT), THAT BENZENE HAS BEEN MEASURED IN THE GROUND WATER AT WILLIAMS/PARACHUTE CREEK SITE @ 50,000 PPB (FIFTY-THOUSAND PART PER BILLION)?

    LISTEN FOR YOURSELVES. THE LINK TO CHANNEL 8 IS PROVIDED ABOVE.

    PERHAPS THE COGCC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MISSPOKE, BUT IF HE DIDN’T, THEN THE ENTIRE RHETORIC FROM THE DAVE WALKER OF THE CDPHE, ABOUT “THIS IS A MINOR SPILL” IS A BUNCH OF CRAP.

    ASK THE CENTER OF DESEASE CONTROL (NIOSH) IF 50,000 PPB OF BENZENE IS A “MINOR SPILL”. THAT LEVEL OF BENZENE CONCENTRATION IS VERY DEADLY AND EVERY WORKER IN AND AROUND THE SITE SHOULD BE WEARING COMPLETE BODY PROTECTION (SPACE SUITS) WITH SELF-CONTAINED AIR SUPPLY. ANYTHING LESS IS “CRIMINAL” AND “RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT”..

    IF THE BENZENE LEVELS ARE 50,000 PPB; WHERE IS FEDERAL OSHA? THOSE LAZY DENVER BUREAUCRATS SHOULD GETS THEIR BOOTS MUDDY WITH PARACHUTE CREEK SOIL AND INSPECT THE WILLIAMS CLEAN-UP SITE AND READ THE DATA. AND IF THE DATA SHOWS 50,000 PPB OF BENZENE, THEN THE WILLIAMS GAS PLANT IS A DANGEROUS AS CHERNOBYL AND FEDERAL OSHA SHOULD SHUT THE PROJECT DOWN UNTIL PROPER WORKER SAFETY MEASURES ARE IMPLEMENTED.

    Carl Mc Williams
    Silt, Colorado

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