GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The SourceGas natural gas supply company reported on June 27 that a spill of unknown dimensions had occurred in the natural-gas storage complex known as the Wolf Creek Field, located in the Thompson Divide area southwest of Glenwood Springs.
The spill was reported by SourceGas on June 20, but apparently had taken place over time, beginning earlier than the date it was found.
And according to a spill report on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) website, the spill is believed to have had an “impact” on groundwater flowing at a depth of five to six feet underground at the site.
There was no elaboration regarding what kind of impact might have occurred or what chemicals might be involved.
The Thompson Divide region has become a magnet for controversy about drilling for natural gas.
The drilling plans have been resisted by a network of civilian activists and groups, as well as by the governments of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Pitkin County, where some of the proposed drilling would occur.
The COGCC website report indicated that the spill was discovered “during a facility upgrade of the Wolf Creek #12 pad,” which is part of the Wolf Creek complex of storage wells south of Sunlight Mountain Resort.
The report does not detail exactly what kind of upgrade was being done, but notes that “the existing building housing production equipment was demolished” and evidence of spilled hydrocarbons was discovered within the building’s footprint after the demolition material was removed.
“The exact volume of fluids released is unknown,” the spill report states, “therefore, none of the fluids released were recovered. Soil impacts from the release are all contained on the well pad. None were noted offsite.”
The spill site, according to the document, covers an area of 1,165 square feet.
In a section of the spill report titled “Prevent Problems,” the company commented, “The preliminary assessment continues, and suggests the source may have been removed and this is a case of residual contamination.”
Officials from the COGCC did not respond to requests for comment by press time on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for SourceGas, Natalie Shelbourn, said the company is still assessing the extent and nature of the spill, including efforts to determine how far underground the hydrocarbons spread and what the effects were on the groundwater.
She said the Wolf Creek storage field was an active drilling field for natural gas in the 1950s and 1960s, and was converted to storage in the 1970s.
“The Wolf Creek field is a critical component for provision of service for our natural gas customers in Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties,” she said.