Williams, state officials reassure residents about Parachute plume
Post Independent Staff
PARACHUTE ‹ As many as 120 people jammed into the fire house at Battlement
Mesa on Monday night to hear the latest news regarding efforts to contain a
large spill of benzene and other hydrocarbons along Parachute Creek.
A representative of Williams Companies, Vice President Dave Keylor, along
with state and federal regulators, attempted to reassure residents that
everything possible is being done to limit damages from the spill.
Some, such as Parachute Trustee Juanita Williams, said they were happy with
the way Williams had been dealing with the town and working on the leak,
which is about four and a half miles up Parachute Creek from the town.
But a large share of those attending the meeting were skeptical about those
³This is not going to impact any drinking water, it is not going to impact
any drinking water wells,² said David Walker, hazardous waste corrective
manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which
this week took control of investigating the leak.
And, he said in response to a question, ³There is not going to be benzene in
your irrigation water,² a reference to a diversion intake along Parachute
Creek that sends irrigation water to the town, and the fact that the toxic
chemical benzene has been found on both sides of the creek, under the creek
and in the water.
Williams has been working since March 8, with the support of state and
federal monitoring agencies, to find the source of the leak, which was
discovered by workmen preparing to expand a nearby natural gas processing
During a cleanup process that has taken more than a month and a half,
Williams has pulled roughly 143 barrels (or roughly 6,000 gallons) of
hydrocarbons from the ground, along with nearly 4,300 barrels (180,000
gallons) of contaminated water.
Someone in the crowd asked about the fate of workers digging in the area of
the leak, some of whom fear they have been poisoned and may become ill.
³That is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] concern,²
responded Walker. No OSHA representative was present at the meeting, which
was held in the Battlement Mesa fire station.
For a complete report on the meeting, which lasted from 6 p.m. until nearly
8:30 p.m., see Wednesday¹s edition of the Post Independent.
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