Parachute Creek spill: Day 124

Crews at the site of spill four miles north of Parachute, Colo., at the Parachute Creek Gas Plant on Monday, Mar. 18, 2013.  (The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel | Dean Humphrey)

Crews at the site of spill four miles north of Parachute, Colo., at the Parachute Creek Gas Plant on Monday, Mar. 18, 2013. [The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel | Dean Humphrey]

Companies fined over Parachute leak cleanup [free to non-subscribers]

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is accusing a Williams contractor and subsidiary of safety violations in connection with their response to the natural gas liquids leak north of Parachute.

The agency is seeking fines of $10,200 and $7,854, respectively, against Badger Daylighting Corp. and Bargath LLC. Bargath is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Williams oil and gas pipeline and processing company.

OSHA is accusing Badger and Bargath of violating hazardous waste operation and emergency response safety standards. It has issued seven citations against each of them but is pursuing fines for three violations apiece. The individual fines amount to $3,400 and $2,618, respectively, against Badger Daylighting and Bargath.

The actions relate to initial cleanup efforts after the March 8 discovery of a leak that later was blamed on a valve pressure gauge leak from a natural gas liquids pipeline leaving Bargath’s gas processing plant near Parachute Creek. The leak is believed to have occurred earlier in the winter and resulted in an estimated 10,000 gallons of hydrocarbons reaching soil, groundwater and, in small amounts, the creek itself. Those hydrocarbons include benzene, a carcinogen …

A slap on the wrist. This reeks of appeasement to the public outcry over the spill. Evidently OSHA felt they had to do something. After all, their investigation was reported in the paper. This is a pittance compared to the long term costs due to environmental devastation and degradation of public health.

As Bob Arrington points out in his comment, there has yet to be any investigation of Williams’ gross negligence:

“The SOP at this site is MOTS – More Of The Same. The entire plants’ operating system needs review. If Williams has a SCADA system, which it should have, there had to be system failures or people ignoring warnings, or not paying attention to instrumentation, or lack of necessary monitoring. In all, there is more to the story in that investigators have not either looked at or disclosed. Either way, any one or all of the above listed plant problems could be cause for further remediation and/or fines.”

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Williams July 8 update: Williams Update on Activity Near Its Parachute, Colo., Facility
Company Response Continuing to Show Progress in Protecting Parachute Creek, Recovering Hydrocarbon Fluids

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Note:  Williams has not posted testing results since June 25. Benzene levels persist at CS-6 between 1.2 and 1.7 ppb. The private property owner mentioned in the last paragraph who requested surface water sampling should hire an independent water testing company to test the creek water.  And they shouldn’t take just surface samples.

CDPHE update July 2, 2013 – CS-6 reporting benzene levels, Williams submits work plan

The benzene concentration in all surface water samples remains non-detect for all sample points except for CS-6. The benzene levels there varied between 1.2 and 1.7 ppb over the last week.

Williams has submitted a work plan proposing upgrades to the existing ground water aeration system and the construction of a second ground water aeration system for the northeast side of Parachute Creek. The second ground water aeration system will be upgradient of the existing system in an area with elevated benzene concentrations in the ground water. The intent will be to have a two-stage ground water treatment process to help speed up treatment of ground water and help reduce the concentration of benzene that reaches Parachute Creek at location CS-6.

The state health department visited the Parachute Creek site on June 13 to collect ground water and surface water samples for independent analysis to confirm the sample results that Williams has been reporting for the project. The state health department collected what are known as “split” samples with Williams from one ground water well and three on-site surface water samples, and had the samples analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including benzene and various solvents. The results of the state health department’s independent sample analysis were consistent with the results of the analysis conducted by the laboratories that Williams uses for sample analysis. Results are available on the state health department’s website for this Parachute Creek release.

At the request of a private property owner whose property borders Parachute Creek, on June 13, the state health department also collected a surface water sample from Parachute Creek where the private property owner allows his horses to drink from the creek. The sample location is downgradient of the City of Parachute Irrigation Water Diversion and upstream of the Town of Parachute itself. All VOCs, including benzene and other constituents that might be related to the Parachute Creek pipeline release, were non-detect in the both the state health department’s and Williams’ sample results.
[end of update]

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CDPHE Parachute Creek

Plume size:
The maximum estimated size of the plume is approximately 1,500 feet long, 308 feet wide and 10 feet thick. This equals an area of approximately 462,000 square feet or 10.6 acres in area; roughly 34,595,000 gallons.

(The Glenwood Springs Hot Springs Pool is 405 feet long and 100 feet wide at the widest point, and contains 1,071,000 gallons of water.)

Chemical composition of plume:
Benzene; toluene; ethylbenzene; all three xylenes (M, O and P); cyclohexane; hexane;
methylcyclohexane; isopropylbenzene; acetone; bromoform; heptanes; 1, 2 , 3-trimethylbenzene; 1, 2, 4-trimethylbenzene; 1, 3, 5-trimethylbenzene and tetrachloroethene.

Amount of hydrocarbons extracted as of July 8:
179.7 barrels or 7,549 gallons

Amount of contaminated water brought up with the hydrocarbons as of June 20:
Approximately 369,000 gallons

Groundwater benzene levels in mid-May from selected monitoring wells:
“Williams has draft groundwater results that show a significant decrease in benzene concentration in groundwater down-gradient of the aeration trench. The concentration of benzene in monitoring point TMP-48 dropped from 670 ppb on April 29 to 100 ppb on May 13 to 4 ppb on May 15. The benzene concentration in monitoring point TMP-52 dropped from 360 ppb on April 29 to 170 ppb on May 12 (the last sample collection date for TMP-52). Furthermore, the
benzene concentration in the down-gradient air sparge trench and vertical well points efficacy monitoring location, SPT1-4, has decreased from 760 ppb on May 12 to 140 ug/L on May 15, 2013.”

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One Comment on “Parachute Creek spill: Day 124”

  1. Mary Hughes Says:

    Yeah, that little tiny fine is really going to make an impression on Williams/Badger/Bargath. They make more money in the bat of an eyelash, than what this fine is. OSHA is about as effective as the EPA. Not!!

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