Noble: Rulison spill did not contaminate surface water |

Noble: Rulison spill did not contaminate surface water

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

A “highly unusual” spill of produced water on Sept. 19 at a well pad in the Rulison area operated by Noble Energy did not contaminate any nearby sources of surface water, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

Noble public information officer Stephen Flaherty confirmed that 467 barrels of produced water, more than 18,000 gallons, were spilled when a hose was mistakenly left disconnected from a valve.

Two employees of a subcontractor failed to check all the hose connections before transferring produced water between two tanks, Flaherty said. A hose check is standard operating procedure, he noted.

The subcontractor reported the spill to Noble’s offices at 7 a.m. that morning, and Noble in turn called in the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, as required by state law.

COGCC personnel could not be reached for comment on this story, and no report of the spill could be found on the COGCC website.

Flaherty called the spill “highly unusual” because of the quantity of liquid spilled on the ground.

Produced water is briny water either trapped below ground beneath oil and gas reservoirs, or pumped into the ground during the hydraulic fracturing process.

It is pumped to the surface along with gas and oil, typically in quantities considerably greater than the petroleum product itself, according to a 2004 report for the U.S. Department of Energy.

ECOS Environmental was called in to take soil samples after all the liquid left on the ground was swept up by a vacuum truck. The samples are being analyzed, Flaherty said.

He said the subcontractor fired the two workers, but he was unaware of any sanctions or citations against the subcontracting company.

While reports circulated through the community that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had been called in to deal with the mess, that was not the case, Flaherty said.

“Surface water was not impacted,” Flaherty said. “The EPA was not contacted, to our knowledge.”

Matthew Allen, of the EPA’s public relations office in Denver, confirmed that the federal agency was not alerted to the spill.

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