Parachute Creek spill: Day 134

Parachute Creek Surface Water Sample Test Locations -- CS-6 is located in the bottom right corner of the b&w inset (lower left corner)

Parachute Creek Surface Water Sample Test Locations — CS-6 is located in the bottom right corner of the b&w inset (lower left corner)

Benzene from spill in Parachute Creek tops EPA limits

Contamination of Parachute Creek worsened this week, more than six months after an oil and gas industry spill, with levels of cancer-causing benzene exceeding the federal safe drinking water limit.

Water samples drawn near the spill at a Williams Co. gas-processing plant near Parachute showed benzene levels at 5.5 parts per billion on July 11 and 9.2 ppb on July 15, according to data provided Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment …

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CDPHE Update July 18, 2013

Creek and ground water samples continue to be recorded regularly. All creek surface water sample points have remained non-detect for benzene contamination with the exception of CS-6.

Date                             CS-6 Reading (parts per billion – ppb)
Friday, July 5                            2.8
Monday, July 8                        3.9
Thursday, July 11          5.5
Monday, July 15             9.2

The sample result for CS-6 from Thursday, July 11 is the first time since the single detection on May 1, 2013 that the concentration of benzene at CS-6 has exceeded the drinking water standard of 5 ppb. However, the surface water from Parachute Creek is not used as a drinking water source and the actual surface water standard for benzene in the creek is 5,300 ppb based on protection of aquatic life. The sampling results do not represent a risk to public health.

It also is important to note that contamination found at CS-6 is isolated and does not appear to be traveling. All other sample points remain non-detect for contamination, including the Town of Parachute’s diversion point for irrigation water.

On Saturday, July 13, Williams began operation of new vertical air sparge wells installed to upgrade the existing air sparge/vapor extraction system. The new sparge wells were placed to stop the flow of benzene-contaminated ground water around the east end of the existing system that may be the cause of the increased benzene concentrations at sample point CS-6. As noted in the July 12 update, a new air sparge/vapor extraction system located farther upstream of CS-6 will be activated the week of July 22. The intent of this system will be to treat contaminated ground water closer to the original source area and speed up the overall cleanup process.
[end of update]

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On June 28, 2013, Williams submitted a 45-page Water Management Plan to the CDPHE, which was approved on July 18: Williams Water Management Plan
[If this link doesn’t work go to CDPHE Parachute Creek, click on Documents in the drop-down menus then click on Water Management Plan]

Williams July 17 update:  Benzene Concentration at Surface Water Point CS-6 Rises; All Other Surface Water Points Still Non-Detect: Additional Remediation Steps Still in Progress

Williams Testing Results 

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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 17:
7,602 gallons (approximately 181 barrels)

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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6 Comments on “Parachute Creek spill: Day 134”

  1. Leslie Robinson Says:

    It is hard to understand that the Colorado Dept of Health could state, according to the Denver Post, that increasing benzene levels “do not represent a risk to public health,” when this cancer-causing chemical is almost twice the recommended saturation for aquatic life in Parachute Creek.

    From basic science classes at school, we learned that nature has a very complicated food chain — which includes small aquatic life. And, as we experienced with pesticides, yes, chemicals in the bottom of the food chain DO eventually affect human health.

    Nope, it is not reassuring when the state agency allegedly responsible for protecting public health seems to downgrade a very serious poisoning of Parachute Creek.

  2. Geoff Says:

    The seep at West Divide Creek (aka Silt Seep) has recently fallen below actionable levels. The seep was first identified in 2004 and Encana began air sparing shortly thereafter. That means almost 8 years of remediation. All the quarterly monitoring data is on the COGCC website. An initial contour map of the first data from Parachute indicates pretty extensive contamination that will continue to be leached out into the water for some time. Hope it doesn’t take eight years to clean this one up!

  3. Peggy Tibbetts Says:

    Geoff, the keyword being “actionable.”
    But yeah, 8 lo-ongg years. And we don’t yet know the long term impacts. Knowing as much as we do about the West Divide Creek seep — and you far much more than we — really does make this remediation process seem so much more daunting.
    Even more unsettling is that their remediation model is the Suncor/Sand Creek spill which is going on 2 years — in remediation — only Suncor and God know when the spill first occurred or for how long the hydrocarbons flowed.
    At least with the Parachute spill we can be relatively sure the hydrocarbons flowed for about 16-18 days. Cold comfort as it is.

  4. Gregory Sisk Says:

    I sent a letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Sun hoping to inform the people of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah of the pollution being introduced into their drinking water by the petroleum industry with the help of Garfield County Commissioners. In this letter, I urged the citizens of those states to sue Garfield County. I don’t know if this will do any good, but I intend to send more letters to papers in other cities downstream on the Colorado River. I received a call from a woman at The Sun this afternoon confirming that I wrote the letter. She was unfamiliar with fracking and the widespread pollution it is causing, as well as being unaware of the films Gasland and Gasland 2. I may have opened a can of worms that could actually have an effect. I hope that I am not the only person to write such letters. The people downstream have the rite to know what they are drinking.

  5. Sonja Linman Says:

    Well done. Democracy=information.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Motivation for Building a Popular Resistance Movement in Grand Junction Colorado: A story about a two-year journey | Daily Fumes - September 19, 2013

    […] than seven months ago we had an oil and gas industry spill in Parachute Creek. Benzene from the spill topped EPA limits. In a period of four days, from July 11 to July 15 water […]

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