Drilling companies working on pipeline near Parachute agree to best management practices | PostIndependent.com

Drilling companies working on pipeline near Parachute agree to best management practices

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has reached an agreement with four companies whose construction work on a natural gas pipeline allegedly polluted Garden Gulch and Parachute Creek with sediment, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

The agreement led to the cancellation of a court hearing ” which was scheduled for today in Garfield County District Court ” over Suthers’ request for an injunction that sought to prevent the four companies from continuing work on a natural gas pipeline in the Garden Gulch area northwest of Parachute.

Marathon Oil Co., Berry Petroleum Co., Enterprise Products and Enterprise Transportation Co. have all agreed to implement “best management practices” to prevent or minimize sediment or other pollutants in sediment discharges from entering Garden Gulch, McKay Gulch, Corral Gulch and Parachute Creek, court records show.

Marathon and the Enterprise companies ” which are independent businesses working with Marathon ” are building the natural gas pipeline, while Berry Petroleum is providing an access road for heavy equipment to construct the ditch for the pipeline.

The companies have agreed to implement “proper sedimentation control measures” by May 7, and to make one or more company representatives available for daily weekday briefings with a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) official. The companies also agreed to pay the costs of weekly inspections of the area from Tuesday to July 31, according to court documents.

Suthers’ staff sought the injunction on behalf of the CDPHE because the four companies’ alleged storm-water failures in the area allegedly posed “an imminent threat to Corral Gulch, Garden Gulch and Parachute Creek.”

“Because of the current spring snowmelt, immediate action is necessary to prevent further pollution of state waters,” according to the attorney general’s filing.

Although the companies have agreed to “best management practices” on their pipeline work, they did not admit to any of the state’s allegations concerning their alleged storm-water failures. The agreement filed Tuesday also does not prevent the state from seeking a permanent injunction to cease building of the pipeline in the future.

Nate Strauch, communications director for Suthers, said the companies and the attorney general’s office have been talking to each other since the injunction was filed last week, and will continue to communicate with each other in the future.

However, the agreement does not preclude the state from seeking past damages, remediation and fines, Strauch said.

Berry Petroleum, in a statement released late Tuesday, said the agreement with the state allows it “to focus on working cooperatively with the state’s inspectors” and to implement “measures to minimize sediment runoff from our access road during the spring snowmelt.”

Attempts to reach Marathon were not immediately successful late Tuesday.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is also investigating Marathon Oil and Berry Petroleum for four water spills from storage pits from November to late January. All four spills by the two companies occurred on land owned by Chevron.

Both companies have said benzene samples from the spills did not rise above the Environmental Protection Agency’s safe-drinking-water threshold, which is 5 parts per billion of benzene.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117


Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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