Benzene levels increase near oil and gas spill by Parachute Creek |

Benzene levels increase near oil and gas spill by Parachute Creek

Benzene levels at a point in Parachute Creek near the Williams Co. gas plant spill doubled in a week to 3.9 parts per billion on Monday, short of the 5 ppb considered safe for drinking water.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said new sparging systems at the sample point and upstream are being installed to stop groundwater contaminated with hydrocarbons from reaching the creek north of Parachute. The new systems will be turned on the week of July 22.

Benzene contamination has not been detected at any other test points, including where the town of Parachute diverts creek water, typically for irrigation, a health department news release said.

Crews have been working to clean up a spill that was revealed in March. The spill, blamed on a mechanical failure, released more than 10,000 gallons of hydrocarbon liquids from a valve, contaminating soil and groundwater. When the spill was revealed, Williams and its subsidiary Bargath and state and federal agencies scrambled to protect Parachute Creek, which flows into the Colorado River. Benzene seeped into the creek and, at one point, the levels exceeded the federal drinking water standard at points near the spill.

About 130 tons per day of contaminated soil stockpiled as the companies worked to find and clean up the spill is being shipped from the spill site to a treatment site in Utah. CDPHE expects all of the soil to be removed by the end of July.

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