John Colson

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March 23, 2013
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Hydrocarbon plume still a mystery

PARACHUTE, Colorado - A plume of unidentified liquid hydrocarbon compounds, found near Parachute Creek on March 8, continued on Friday to bedevil industry, state and federal attempts to identify the liquids and locate the source of a suspected pipeline leak.

Two weeks have passed since the plume was discovered by employees of the Williams Midstream energy company, who were preparing the ground for an expansion of the nearby Williams natural-gas processing plan.

According to a company spokeswoman, workers continue to dig around and under a network of pipelines in an effort to locate the source of the leak.

"The amount of hydrocarbon recovered each day continues to decrease," according to a statement on the Williams company website.

The plume was found in a 40-foot right of way owned by Williams, across property that belongs to the WPX Energy company.

Both Williams Midstream and WPX were created last year when Williams Production RMT corporation was split apart, putting WPX in charge of drilling activities and Williams Midstream in charge of pipelines, tanks and other transport technologies.

The job of vacuuming up barrels of hydrocarbons and contaminated water has been left up to Williams, though the process is being monitored by officials from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to a statement issued on Friday by Williams spokeswoman Donna Gray, all that remains of the plume is "a sheen of hydrocarbon [no measurable amounts] and 24 barrels of water," which is similar to conditions reported on Thursday.

Gray also reported that the total amount of hydrocarbons pumped from the ground comes to 143 barrels, or more than 6,000 gallons. The amount of water pumped up along with the hydrocarbons is roughly 2,700 barrels, Gray reported, which equals more than 110,000 gallons.

The hydrocarbon liquids and water are being kept in an off-site storage tank, according to a statement on the company's website (

The soil, according to the statement, is being taken to an off-site "containment" area until a disposal plan is put together.">class="NormalParagraphStyle">

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 23, 2013 01:23AM Published Mar 23, 2013 01:22AM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.