By Bob Arrington
FTS: The afternoon of April 2, Bob Arrington witnessed a spill incident. Here is what he reported via email on April 8, to Marc Morton and Stan Spencer at the COGCC:
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 in the early* afternoon, I was driving down I-70 when I observed a workover rig having an incident. This was located in the Rulison area in the production field South of the County landfill. That evening I called COGCC’s Sean** Kellerby(sp) and alerted him via recording. I reported this to the EAB board meeting on the next day, Thursday the 3rd and when I arrived home I was informed Sean had called. Calling Sean back, he related he had gone out to the site, but being nighttime could not see much of what had happened. As I understand, you went out to the site Friday, the 4th, and it was explained to you what had happened.
Susan Alvillar of WPX also called me to explain the situation. She said this was work on an injection well and there was plug set and they were bring back up a section of pipe. She explained this was water related to the pipe section and only vapor was escaping from the “Baker’ tank. She related they had about 2 bbls. come out and had a vacuum truck there to pick up the water.
I told her that the view I had, showed the tank sputtering water that was running down the side as well as the vapor plumes shooting out. At the rig there was a water column going up about halfway on the tower and the plume was as wide as the tower. I related to her that it would be easy to estimate the column of water I observed flowing would have been “2 bbls.” just what was in the air at any instant. Considering the tank was at overflow, it didn’t appear their estimate of 2 bbls was very accurate and it might be good to double check what was happening. The fact they had a water column indicates it was under pressure and the pulsating flow indicated it was not under control by some action as uniform raising a pipe. No such pipe was visible either. Also, this was not “water” if an injection well. It would be very contaminated mixture of produced water and fracking water. Since it is being injected it means it is highly concentrated mixture of brines, chemicals, heavy metals and whatever hydrocarbon liquids. The vapors were not only water vapors, but had to include hydrocarbons.
If you have a report form that I need to fill out, please let me know. But if they are planning a report of a 2 bbl. spill, we all know that the amount was greater than that. In the time I observed it of about ½ minute, it would have been close to 20 bbls plus whatever overrun the Baker tank.
Bob says: *I later corrected the “early afternoon” to after 4 pm., in an email to Matt Lepore on 4/17/14, after rechecking my activities on 4/2/14.
** “Sean” is Shaun Kellerby
Calculations included in email:
This means that while I witnessed flow, they spilled more than the 1.3 bbl.s reported. They also reported they had a vacuum truck and vacuumed a little over half of the spill up. This does not account for spill from the Baker tank. I do not have a photo taking cell phone, so I couldn’t take a photo.
Click here for the “official” Form 19 spill report which was filed on April 11.
FTS: Bob, who is exceedingly patient, waited for a reply yet he heard nothing – from anyone. So on Thursday April 17, he sent a quick email to COGCC Executive Director Matt Lepore along with a copy of the email to Morton and Spencer:
It has been over a week since I sent this in and I have had neither an acknowledgement, or follow-up. It was 2 weeks since they were also informed at the Garfield EAB meeting. There is one correction after I further checked my schedule for the 2nd, it was just shortly after 4 p.m.
FTS: The reply was almost immediate but not from Lepore. Bob received a phone call and email from Marc Morton.
Hello Mr. Arrington –
It was good to speak to you today. I understand your concerns that releases (vapor and liquids) need to be accurately reported by industry. I’ll remind industry folks I work with that we need that. And we definitely appreciate you alerting us at COGCC when you observe an issue such as this. Please continue that practice.
And as I mentioned, I’ve asked Stan Spencer (Environmental Protection Specialist based out of our Rifle Office) to follow up with you to discuss his observations and rationale for closure of the spill report. He visited the site the day following your verbal report at the EAB meeting on April 3, followed up with WPX personnel, and is highly experienced at assessing and investigating releases at sites such as this. And as you know, Shaun Kellerby of our staff also visited the site after you spoke with him previously.
Attached is the Spill Report (our tracking No 2148531) concerning the release. As appears to be the standard practice at WPX during workover operations, a vacuum truck was on hand to immediately recover any treated water that reached the ground surface. Stan’s field observations supported that assertion, and the spill report was subsequently closed. I apologize for not informing you of that information previously.
Please let me, Stan, or Shaun know should you have any additional questions.
Thanks very much.
Marc K. Morton, P.G.
Local Government Liaison, COGCC
The images below are from Google Earth and were made 8/11/2011. I pinned a Site A that the report shows as the work area. For all of you that travelled this section and saw the workover rig, I think you will agree the Site B pin is more like the site as they appeared right next to the service road, not 200 feet in. But I added these pictures to show the noticeable water flow that has been coming from the turn-around area with gas wells. Moreover, you can see the outline of what appears to be an old pad area. The practice is to use former wells to site injection wells after the play is over. Be that as it may, the COGCC inspections have to be considered in the light that they did not witness the flow and were looking at a site 2 days after. I asked Stan, who called 4/18/14 in the morning, if he looked at the right area and he said he did and he also said there was a berm. I didn’t think to ask him if the workover rig was still there when he arrived 2 days after the incident.
Susan Alvillar told me the spill was 2 bbls, the report says 1.3 bbls and over 1/2 picked up. They are blaming moisture on ground during inspection as rain. I thought it was possible they had berms, but by the report there were none.
Both Stan Spencer and Marc Morton have gotten back to me on the spill. They say they have to go by the account rendered by WPX, as Stan’s inspection revealed no contradiction. The official report by WPX is here. Stan and Marc were saying my report was part of the file. However, as of 4/20/14 my report is not included with the WPX report in the COGCC database.
Business as usual.
Did you see anything?
The spill incident could be seen from I-70 (especially westbound) on April 2, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. The injection well was gushing produced water and they were filling a Baker (frac) tank.
If you have any further information please contact Bob Arrington: firstname.lastname@example.org
or Peggy Tibbetts: email@example.com
*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.