3,000 more gallons of hydrocarbons pulled from seep site

Response crews more than doubled the amount of a liquid hydrocarbon removed from a subsurface leak site north of Parachute during a 24-hour period ending early this morning.

Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said this afternoon that another 72 barrels of oil — more than 3,000 gallons — had been pulled out from a site adjacent to Parachute Creek as of 6 a.m. today. The leak is occurring in a pipeline right of way adjacent to a natural gas plant.

This is the first time the substance has been referred to as oil. Hartman and industry representatives previously have described it as being an unidentified natural gas liquid lighter than oil. Hartman said he’s hearing the words condensate, natural gas liquids or hydrocarbons all used to describe the fluid, “and any of those are roughly accurate at this point as we continue to investigate this.”

Before 6 a.m. Sunday, 57 barrels of the fluid had been recovered.

Industry officials over the weekend also had said indications were that the leak seemed to be subsiding. Said Hartman, “We’re not prepared to say the situation is slowing down, or increasing. I’d say the volumetric numbers suggest the effort to contain and capture the oil continues and there could be reasons we don’t fully understand yet why the numbers are not necessarily trending down.”

The fluid is seeping from an undetermined source in an area containing a number of pipelines and tanks. The pipelines belong to Williams and WPX Energy. The seep was discovered when crews were digging to locate pipelines as Williams prepares for construction of a new gas plant on the property.

Williams also owns the existing plant, but the underlying property, including where the seep is occurring, belongs to WPX.

Through this morning, the amount of contaminated groundwater also removed had grown by nearly 600 barrels, or more than 25,000 additional gallons. That’s on top of more than 35,000 gallons removed up as of early Sunday.

The leak site is a mere 60 feet from Parachute Creek, but authorities say the creek has not been contaminated and trenching and other means are being used to protect it.

The area of contamination is said to run about 200 feet along the right of way paralleling the creek, 175 feet wide and 14 feet deep. The depth to the shallowest groundwater in the area is about 10.5 feet, according to a spill/release form Williams has filed with the state. The nearest water wells are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 feet away.



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