‘Compliance advisory’ issued in plume case
Post Independent Staff
PARACHUTE — State health officials late Tuesday issued a “compliance advisory” alert that the companies involved in a large hydrocarbon spill on Parachute Creek are facing possible state sanctions for improperly disposing of hazardous wastes.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) took over the investigation into the spill last week from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and the advisory appears to be the department’s opening move in determining what should be done next.
According to a statement from the CDPHE, the compliance advisory is a notification to Williams Midstream and its subsidiary, Bargath LLC, as well as WPX Energy, that the spill is now formally considered an act of disposal of hazardous waste without the necessary permits from the state.
The spill was due to a broken pressure gauge on a 4-inch pipeline carrying processed “natural gas liquids” from a Williams-owned processing plant across Parachute Creek to a nearby tank farm.
Bargath operates the plant, and the pipeline crosses land owned by WPX Energy, according to the CDPHE notice.
The spill was first noticed on March 8 by Williams workers preparing for an expansion of the processing plant, although subsequent investigation by Williams revealed that the leak was first detected in December 2012, but was judged to be too small to require reporting to state authorities.
According to the notice from the CDPHE, the leak has put more than 10,000 gallons of hydrocarbons into the soil, and testing of groundwater supplies and the creek itself have shown signs of contamination from the leak.
The CDPHE notice states that the hydrocarbons detected in the soil are considered a possible fire hazard under state law because they have a “flash point less than 60 degrees centigrade.”
The hazardous waste designation also comes from revelations that benzene has been detected at 17 monitoring locations downstream from the damaged pressure gauge where the leak occurred.
The CDPHE notification gives the companies 15 days to either convince the agency that any violation of state hazardous waste regulations has been corrected, or that no violation has occurred.
If the response by the companies does not satisfy the CDPHE, the notification indicates, the agency may require the companies to meet with state regulators to talk about the matter.
The notice is signed by Walter Avramenko, who leads the hazardous waste corrective action unit of the CDPHE.
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