Parachute Creek spill: Day 125

Workers near dilineation trenches at Parachute Creek spill site on March 19, 2013. [COGCC photo by David Andrews]

Workers near dilineation trenches at Parachute Creek spill site on March 19, 2013. [COGCC photo by David Andrews]

3 firms get OSHA fines for spill near Parachute

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Federal workplace-safety officials have accused three companies of violating federal law in association with the Parachute Creek spill of natural gas liquids discovered earlier this year, and have assessed fines totalling $27,234 to be paid by the three firms.

Penalty payments, according to the OSHA notification documents sent to the companies in late June, are due within 15 working days of receipt.

The three companies, Badger Daylighting Corp. of Rifle and Bargath LLC of Parachute, and WC Striegel, also of Parachute, have been involved in the cleanup of the spill, which was initially discovered in January but not reported until early March …

… A Post Independent reporter called OSHA in Denver on March 29, asking if the agency was looking into the situation and the workers’ claims, and was told no such investigation had been started.

But by April 2, OSHA official Juan Rodriguez told the Post Independent that an inquiry had begun. The citations and proposed fines are the culmination of that inquiry, Rodriguez confirmed on Tuesday …

OSHA hits 3rd company in Parachute cleanup [subscribers only]

Among OSHA’s allegations against the companies are that they failed:

* to inform employees, or in Bargath’s case the contractors, “of the nature, level and degree of exposure likely as a result of participation in … hazardous waste operations.”

* to develop and implement a decontamination procedure before employees entered the work site.

* to evaluate the site for specific hazards and determine appropriate protections for employees.

* to perform personal air monitoring to ensure workers weren’t being exposed to hazardous substance levels exceeding exposure limits. Some workers have complained about not being provided respirators at first at the site.

* to ensure employees received pertinent safety training.

Ok, so the fines now total $27, 234. Big deal. I wonder how the workers feel knowing that’s all their health and safety is worth.

If the “reporter,” whom we know is John Colson, had not contacted OSHA in the first place to ask if they were investigating the workers’ complaints, they likely would not have conducted an investigation.

“OSHA’s mission is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.”

To me that means they are supposed to be a proactive agency, not a reactive agency. They should have been on site and overseeing worker safety as soon as they learned about the spill.

Instead it took workers’ complaints, plus a newspaper reporter and GVCA Chair Leslie Robinson who publicly questioned worker safety to get the attention of OSHA.

Looks like OSHA has gone the way of the EPA. Another government agency that has to be dragged kicking and screaming to do their jobs.

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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

As of July 2, sampling site CS-6 continued to show benzene levels between 1.2 and 1.7. Williams has not posted testing results since June 25.

************

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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