GRAND JUNCTION — Colorado regulators have reached an agreement with a pipeline company over violations of Colorado law and rules in a natural gas liquids leak near Parachute, while complaints against another company are still pending.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division found Bargath LLC in violation for releasing hazardous materials to the environment without a permit, but ordered no fines.
Officials believe the leak occurred from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3. They estimate about 50,000 gallons of hydrocarbons leaked, with most of that vaporizing, but about 10,000 gallons reached the ground.
Last week, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director Matt Lepore wrote to WPX that a notice of alleged violation it brought against the energy company in March, when that agency first began investigating the case, has been closed. The agency determined it didn’t have jurisdiction over the matter because it didn’t involve exploration and production waste, so it passed it on to the health department.
The leak from a pressure gauge on a pipeline leading from Bargath’s gas processing plant resulted in high benzene levels in groundwater and occasional small amounts of the carcinogen in Parachute Creek. No benzene has been detected in the creek since August.
“They stepped up to the plate and decided not to fight even though they felt strongly about this,” said David Walker, an environmental compliance officer with the division.
The consent order includes no fines against Bargath, although that doesn’t bar other state agencies from pursuing fines in the case. Division officials said the lack of a fine is based on the non-willful nature of the leak.
The agreement calls for a payment of $8,400 to reimburse division staff for its time working on the matter to date, and to pay for future expenses, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported Thursday (http://tinyurl.com/omgjfm2).
The focus of the compliance order is on establishing requirements and schedules for continuing cleanup of the leak, which could last a couple of years, followed by a long period of monitoring, Walker said.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com