Remediation Efforts Continue at Spill Site on Parachute Creek

Jul 23, 2013

This map from Williams' information website about the spill, shows where the company is testing for contaminants. They're updating residents through the site www.answersforparachute.com.
Credit Williams/answersforparachute.com

The natural gas company responsible for a hydrocarbon spill in Garfield County continues to clean up the mess. Over the weekend, an aeration and vapor extraction system was set up to rid the area of cancer-causing benzene. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Donna Gray with the energy company Williams says the system erected Sunday is one of seven aeration and vapor extraction systems. The process is also called air sparging.

"That involves introducing air or oxygen to both the surface area and groundwater in the soil, in the spill area," Gray says.

The technology goes after contaminants like benzene that have been absorbed in soil and dissolved in groundwater. The process is similar to blowing bubbles with a straw into a bowl of water. Once the contaminants make contact with air, they disappear from the water.

The remediation efforts at Parachute Creek have been ongoing since a leak from a faulty pipe was discovered in March.

Nearby resident and natural gas watchdog Bob Arrington says Williams’ recent clean-up efforts are satisfactory.

"Their efforts are good now. They were very slow in getting them into place and they could have done more at the start," he says.

Earlier this month, the amount of benzene at one test site exceeded the federal safe drinking water limit. But, the state says that section of the creek isn’t used for drinking water.

A mechanical failure caused the spill, leaking more than 10,000 gallons of hydrocarbon liquids. No date has been set for when the clean up will be complete.