Parachute Creek spill: Day 56

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

‘Compliance advisory’ issued in plume case

PARACHUTE — State health officials late Tuesday issued a “compliance advisory” alert that the companies involved in a large hydrocarbon spill on Parachute Creek are facing possible state sanctions for improperly disposing of hazardous wastes …

State: Parachute Creek pipeline spill may violate waste-disposal laws

… Williams spokesman Keith Isbell said the warning “was fully expected.””It does not change the cleanup work that Williams has been doing,” he said. ”

Our next step is to formally present our current work plan to CDPHE and get their official approval as the new lead regulator.”

Creek spill an overdue wakeup call


In Williams’ April 10 press release Company Identifies Source of Leak, Confirms It Was Stopped Jan. 3; Creek Unaffected by Leak, the company reported [emphasis added]:

Based on a preliminary analysis of meter data, Williams officials have concluded that a failed pressure gauge is the source of the hydrocarbon fluids the company found last month near its Parachute Gas Plant. The leak was stopped on January 3, 2013, at 12:33 a.m. The gauge was part of a valve set on a 4-inch natural gas liquids pipeline that belongs to Williams Partners.

The company’s evaluation of data from two flow meters on the 4-inch natural gas liquids pipeline shows that the pressure-gauge leak started on Dec. 20, 2012. Based on its analysis that employed Environmental Protection Agency methodology regarding the evaporative properties of natural gas liquids, the company estimates that about 80 percent of the leaked volumes vaporized before entering the soil. By the time the leak was stopped on Jan. 3, 2013, the company estimates up to 241 barrels of natural gas liquids entered the soil at the valve location. To date, crews have recovered about 142 barrels of natural gas liquids from the site …

Bob Arrington* questions Williams’ claim “that about 80 percent of the leaked volumes vaporized before entering the soil”

This week I was going thru the files, and I took another look at the valve set. What I noticed was the referral to “… source of unreportable release …”

Valve picture with notes-5-1-13

Figure A

When I first looked at this COGCC picture [Figure A], I was concerned about the cold contraction torque [Figure B] I probably parsed over this.

williams seep valve-5-1-13

Figure B

I had not recalled the photo description [Figure A] at the EAB meeting (4/4/13) and didn’t put it together until I reviewed the photo because I wanted to determine what the other flange set was about if I could. The pressure gauge appeared to be mounted on by-pass or pressure source for valve operation pipe arrangement (differential pressure boost making it easier to operate the hand wheel). I can’t tell from the photo, but it appears the pipes may be on each side of a “drum” at right angles to the valve stem. If it were a direct by-pass without some other function, the valve would be unnecessary.

However, here is a way the gauge could have been mounted (1) and with the force of an offset ruptured tube putting torque until the gauge rotated downward (2).  [numbers correspond to numbers in Figure A above]

What stood out to me was the paint missing on the flange top below the gauge port. If on the other tap with an elbow, in a vertical position, it would shoot out parallel to the ground. The black pipe on top appears to be a more recent add-on after valve painting and its use is unknown–it may or may not have had significance.

If the gauge ended up pointing the gas stream at the ground, the amount of the spill could be such that the estimated 80% evaporation did not occur.

*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.


See water sampling test results at Williams Answers for Parachute website: Testing Results & Other Info

Latest COGCC document:  Site Investigation and Remediation Workplan


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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