Williams Cos. Parachute Creek Mystery Spill | Unknown Source | 60,000 Gal+ | March 2013

Company with terrible track record is short on answers

Williams Co spill 2013
A faulty valve caused this underground spill, of indeterminate scale

An underground plume of toxic hydrocarbons near Parachute Creek – A Colorado River Tributary – went undetected for days and spread into groundwater and the creek. 60,000 gallons of petrochemicals were recovered by the gas plant operator Williams Energy, but the source and total amount of the spill was not identified. The hydrocarbons were composed of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, hexanes and heptanes.

More than 369,000 of contaminated groundwater were recovered, but the extent of contamination is unknown and Williams Co. is way short of answers. The company has problems with plants blowing up, so let’s not pressure them.

An underground plume of toxins continues to migrate and now covers 10.6 acres. The cleanup continues into 2014 but no penalties or fines are expected. Cause shit happens man.

Chemicals in the liquids include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, hexanes and heptanes, CDPHE officials said. Other chemicals found in recovery trenches — tetrachloroethene and bromoform — are not from natural gas liquids.

Oil and gas industry response crews dug trenches and have been collecting the concentrated hydrocarbon liquids — an effort to stop the contamination of groundwater. Those liquids — about 7,490 gallons collected so far — can be cycled back into Williams’ plant.

A system for treating contaminated groundwater on-site, tested last weekend, must remove contaminants so that water can be discharged under a permit through a filtration system into groundwater along the creek, Salley said.

The contaminated groundwater “will be treated to meet standards before being returned to the water table,” he said, “and does not pose a risk to public health.”

The spill happened after a mechanical failure at Williams’ gas-processing plant along Parachute Creek, about 4 miles north of the town of Parachute and the Colorado River.

Williams officials say the leak was discovered and stopped on Jan. 3. On March 8, company officials orally notified state regulators. When the spill was revealed publicly on March 16, company crews and state and federal agencies began scrambling to protect the creek, which flows into the Colorado River.

Benzene seeped into the creek. At one point, benzene levels exceeded the federal drinking water standard at test points near the spill.

Bruce Finley: 303-954-1700, twitter.com/finleybruce or bfinley@denverpost.com

More than 369,000

Gallons of contaminated groundwater siphoned from oil and gas spill along Parachute Creek in March

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