An unidentified “liquid natural-gas product” is flowing freely into the shallow ground near a creekside gas processing plant in rural western Colorado. After 11 days of cleanup operations and investigations, the source and precise contents of the toxic spill remain a mystery.
Officials at Williams Energy, the presumed culprit in the spill, have not been able to locate the source of the leak, so they have been unable to staunch the flow of underground pollution that is threatening to contaminate Parachute Creek.
More than 60,000 gallons of hydrocarbon gunk have so far been sucked up using vacuum-equipped trucks. The underground pollution plume is believed to have grown to at least 200 feet by 170 feet and is at least 14 feet deep.
The town of Parachute, Colo., home to roughly 1,000 people, closed a headgate that’s used to divert creek water into a drinking water reservoir. That step was a precaution in case the waterway becomes contaminated.
An underground plume of toxic hydrocarbons from an oil spill north of the Colorado River near Parachute has been spreading for 10 days, threatening to contaminate spring runoff.
Vacuum trucks have sucked up more than 60,000 gallons, but an unknown amount remains in the ground by Parachute Creek.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday was in the process of formally ordering the Williams energy company — which runs a gas-processing plant on the creek — to do all in its power to protect surface water. State regulators who on Friday ordered the same now are preparing to issue Williams a “Notice of Alleged Violation” and demand a long-term cleanup plan.
Cleanup continues at the site of an underground spill of thousands of gallons of pollution related to the oil and gas industry in the heart of Colorado’s fracking country.
The underground leak is located near the town of Parachute and has threatened to contaminate Parachute Creek, which flows into the Colorado River. State officials continue to report that buffers have kept the creek safe, so far.
Colorado regulators reported that nearly 6,000 gallons of “hydrocarbons” had been recovered from the site. At least 102,564 gallons of contaminated water have been recovered, as well.
The spill site is near a natural gas plant operated by Williams Energy, and another company, WPX Energy, operates underground oil and gas pipelines in the area. Both companies are working to contain the spill but neither company has taken responsibility, publicly revealed the source of the pollution or identified the type of hydrocarbons contaminating the area.
Spokespeople for Williams did not respond to several inquiries from Truthout.