Parachute Creek benzene free as of Monday
Post Independent Staff
PARACHUTE — There has been no sign of benzene in Parachute Creek since Monday, May 20, according to statements issued separately on Friday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Williams Midstream oil and gas company.
Williams Midstream, which owns a natural-gas processing plant on Parachute Creek, about four miles north of the Town of Parachute, has been working since early March to first locate and then plug a leak that reportedly has soaked a swath of the valley floor with tens of thousands of gallons of natural-gas liquids.
The company reported that it found the source of the leak last month — a broken pressure gauge attached to a 4-inch pipeline leading from the processing plant to a group of storage tanks on the other side of the creek.
Since then, the company has used aeration equipment to disperse the benzene in the creek, which the company has said is a method for stripping benzene out of water that is accepted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In addition, the company has been pumping increasing amounts of “hydrocarbons” — the scientific term for compounds carried along in the natural-gas stream — from monitoring and recovery wells dug around the leak site and downstream along the creek.
According to Friday’s reports, testing on May 20 revealed benzene concentration in the creek of 1.4 parts per billion (ppb). The safe level of benzene in the creek is 5,300 ppb, according to state standards, because Parachute Creek is not classified as a source of drinking water. The safe level for drinking water is 5 ppb, according to health standards.
But since Tuesday, according to the report, samples have revealed no benzene in the creek itself.
In its own report on the current status of the spill, Williams described a new water treatment system now being installed to remove hydrocarbons from the groundwater, which can subsequently be returned to the Parachute Creek aquifer once it is determined to be contaminant free.
Groundwater and recovery wells also are being used to determine the size of the plume and the effectiveness of the efforts to remove the contaminants from the ground and the groundwater.
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