Williams cleared in Rock Springs contamination case | PostIndependent.com

Williams cleared in Rock Springs contamination case

John Colson
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

PARACHUTE, Colorado ” State oil and gas regulators have cleared the Williams Production RMT natural gas company of involvement in the contamination of a spring in western Garfield County.

But the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is still investigating whether another firm might have had something to do with the contamination of the spring.

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by a rancher in June of 2008, who maintained that a spring on his land, known as Rock Spring, located northwest of Parachute, had been contaminated by oil and gas companies operating nearby.

The COGCC issued Notices Of Alleged Violation regarding suspicions that either Oxy Petroleum Corp. or Williams were responsible for the contamination, and that benzene, a known carcinogen, had been detected in tests of the spring.

After the investigation, which included an internal probe by Williams Production, the COGCC concluded that Williams was not the culprit, according to Chris Canfield of the COGCC.

But, said Canfield on Friday, “We clearly have some unfinished business with Oxy.”

“The company is extremely pleased,” said spokeswoman Susan Alvillar, “although it did cost us time and it did cost us money” to overcome what she said was a case of being “guilty until proven innocent.”

Pointing to the outcome of the investigation, Alvillar said, “I think the outcome would slightly beg the question of what made the agency feel that we contributed to the problem in the beginning.”

Still, she said, the company cooperated with the COGCC

This case was not related to another widely known case of spring contamination, involving the cabin and spring of local guide and outfitter Ned Prather, also located northwest of Parachute. Williams and Oxy both were among the companies cited in 2008 by the COGCC as being potentially responsible for the contamination, which reportedly sent Prather to the hospital.

Dave Neslin, director of the COGCC, said the commission is still looking into the Prather issue, and that he could not estimate how long it may be before there is a finding in the case.

Prather’s attorney said in February that Prather seemed to have recovered from throat problems apparently caused by drinking the contaminated water, but was concerned about potential long-term effects from the incident.

Contact John Colson: 970-429-9143

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