Parachute Creek spill: Day 60

Absorbent booms on Parachute Creek [COGCC photo]

Absorbent booms on Parachute Creek [COGCC photo]

Weekend news and updates

Benzene fluctuates in Parachute Creek, may rise with new treatment plan

Williams Update May 3:  Company Deploys Additional Resources to Continue its Focus on Protecting Parachute Creek

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

Rancher worries leak could pollute well water

RIFLE — A ranch owner along Parachute Creek, who also is a member of the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board (EAB), on Thursday questioned the state’s classification of the creek as a “non-drinking water” source.

Howie Orona said he has property near land owned by WPX Energy, which is one of two companies implicated in a natural-gas-liquids pipeline leak that was reported to state authorities on March 8.

He spoke at the EAB’s regular monthly meeting, at the Rifle branch library on Railroad Avenue.

Orona said he has a water well situated about 20 feet from Parachute Creek, “a couple of miles downstream from the leak.” He added that it is a “real shallow well” that he believes is closely linked to the stream flow …

Resident near creek questions benzene levels [subscriber only]

Howard Orona has a domestic well about 20 feet from the creek and said it’s probably only 25 feet deep. A citizen representative on the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board, he expressed concern at the board’s meeting Thursday that benzene in surface water could migrate into his shallow well water.

“For that creek to be pushing into the groundwater in my case, I would think that would be considered drinking water,” he said.

Walker said that despite the 5,300-ppb standard on the creek, “we are trying to protect to drinking water standards because it’s the correct thing to do.”

Williams tested Orona’s water a few weeks ago and it was benzene-free. On Friday, the company agreed to test it again and continue doing so on a regular basis, something Walker said he would have required had the company not volunteered to do it.

He said he agrees it’s possible for contaminated creek water to reach a nearby domestic well, and testing Orona’s well is the right thing to do.

At the same time, he noted that Orona’s well is more than a mile from where benzene is entering the creek, and at least four creek sample points in between aren’t showing any benzene. The contaminated groundwater also is far upstream from his well and shouldn’t reach it underground, Walker said.

The creek also is the source for the town of Parachute’s irrigation supply, but no benzene has been detected at the diversion point.

CDPHE: No impact to vegetation around Parachute Creek


CDPHE Update – May 3, 2013

Here’s an update on the situation at the Parachute Creek gas facility for May 3, 2013.

The May 2 result for surface water sample CS-6 was 4.7 ppb. This is a slight reduction from the 5.3 ppb detected on May 1. As noted in yesterday’s update, none of the surface water sampling results demonstrate the water is a risk to public health.

The concentration of benzene in the surface water dissipates rapidly downstream of sample point CS-6. Other May 2 sample results:

  • CS-7: 1.8 ppb
  • CS-8: 1.5 ppb
  • CS-9: not detected
  • CS-10: not detected
  • CS-11: not detected
  • Parachute Irrigation Diversion: not detected

Early in the week of May 6, 2013, the Colorado Department of Public Health, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will receive a plan from Williams describing proposed upgrades to the existing groundwater treatment system in the vicinity of sample point CS-6. The intent of the upgrades will be to more quickly and thoroughly reduce the concentration of benzene in groundwater before it enters Parachute Creek. Williams anticipates the treatment system upgrades will be fully operational within a few days of approval by the regulatory agencies.

Please note that once the more aggressive groundwater treatment systems are brought on-line, there may be a temporary increase in the concentration of benzene entering Parachute Creek as residual groundwater contamination between the treatment systems and the creek is mobilized. But as the data above show, the expectation is that benzene would continue to dissipate as it moves downstream. Williams will be closely monitoring the situation once the system is turned on, to look for changes that might warrant adjusting its operation, to enhance benzene removal rates and minimize temporary impacts to the creek.
[end of update]


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!


Want more PC spill news?
Ccatch up on coverage of the Parachute Creek spill with our friends at KDNK News.


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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