Parachute Creek spill: Day 55

[Garfield County photo]

[Garfield County photo]

Residents, experts debate plume

PARACHUTE — Experts at a meeting here on Monday night sought to give local residents a clearer picture of the science behind efforts to clean up the Parachute Creek hydrocarbon spill, which has contaminated Parachute Creek and led to fears that local water supplies for irrigation and human consumption may be threatened.

But many of the residents asked questions for which a Williams executive, not to mention government regulators, apparently were not prepared …

…Well-known industry skeptic Peggy Tibbetts asked whether there have been analyses conducted of the tiny aquatic species that inhabit the river, which she likened to “the canary in the coal mine” as a way to gauge the effects of chemical pollution in the water.

Correction:  Another well-known industry skeptic, Mary Russell asked about the aquatic species. An outstanding question. I wish I could claim it but I’m not as smart as her.

More benzene detected in Parachute Creek
[See CDPHE update below]

See the test results at Williams Answers for Parachute website: Testing Results & Other Info
[Benzene detected at Sampling Point 9 on April 28-29, but not on April 30]

Williams will be making a presentation at the EAB Meeting, Thursday, May 2


New COGCC document —

Site Investigation and Remediation Workplan

CDPHE update – April 30, 2013

As stated in the last COGCC update, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation
Commission and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment mutually agreed that primary jurisdiction for response and remediation at the Parachute Creek spill will shift to CDPHE. This shift doesn¹t reflect any material change in the circumstances at the site, the nature of the spilled hydrocarbons, or any change in what¹s currently understood about impacts to groundwater or surface water.

The shift is the result of a legal interpretation that classifies the spilled materials as ones over which CDPHE has primary authority. After careful analysis of the function of the Natural Gas Liquids line in the process stream at the gas plant, the agencies have concluded that hydrocarbons released from the Natural Gas Liquids line do not constitute
Exploration & Production waste. Therefore, primary responsibility for the investigation and remediation oversight transfers to CDPHE, with COGCC providing support as needed. The agencies will continue to work together closely at the site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has been and will continue to be involved in this site under its own regulatory authority, and EPA will continue to be part of communications with both agencies and the operators.

Yesterday representatives of CDPHE and COGCC provided an update during a meeting in Parachute with local officials, basically confirming that nothing has changed about the characterization of the spill. The source of the spill was identified and was stopped. It is now about the clean-up.

The meeting with local officials was followed by a public meeting with interested community members, which received press coverage. (Thank you to reporters who were able to attend.)

CDPHE now will take the lead role in working with Williams Co. on the containment and clean-up of the spilled hydrocarbons. Nothing is changing at this time with respect to the sampling and clean-up efforts. One additional sample showed benzene detectable in surface water at 1 ppb, which again is below the safe drinking water threshold of 5 ppb. This sample was slightly further downstream from past samples that showed surface water impacts, but still approximately a mile from the Town of Parachute¹s irrigation diversion point ­ which has yet to show any benzene detection.

Williams Co. has completed an approximately 200-foot treatment trench, in the location of the bend in the creek where previous samples of surface water had detected benzene (below 5 ppb), to aerate groundwater in the trench to remove benzene before it reaches the creek. Such aeration is an effective method of removing benzene from water. CPDHE¹s Air Pollution Control Division has approved the aeration as a clean-up measure and will be requiring a permit application from Williams to continue the process as may be needed.

CDPHE will take over the collection of independent sampling that had been being conducted by COGCC.

CDPHE will continue to work with COGCC, EPA and Williams Co. on the clean up.
[end of update]


Parachute Creek water safe for irrigation use, schools told [subscribers only]

The school district serving the Parachute and Battlement Mesa areas plans to begin using irrigation water from Parachute Creek after receiving assurances from state officials that doing so won’t endanger students.

Ken Haptonstall, superintendent of Garfield County School District 16, said the district initially had been concerned about the benzene that has shown up in the creek as a result of the natural gas liquids leak from a pipeline leaving the Williams gas processing plant upstream.

“We water the fields, that’s one thing. The fact that kids play on the fields, it’s a much bigger thing,” Haptonstall said …


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

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


Get involved in citizen action regarding the Parachute Creek spill. Join the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance.  Please donate and volunteer today!


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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