Williams ordered by EPA to take action in leak cleanup
The Environmental Protection Agency has joined state regulators in taking formal enforcement action against an energy company in conjunction with a subsurface leak of thousands of gallons of a liquid hydrocarbon northwest of Parachute.
Meanwhile, the amount of liquid being recovered continues to dissipate, so much so that officials said no measurable amount of hydrocarbon was collected Thursday.
In documents made public Thursday, the EPA issued an administrative order outlining a litany of actions Williams must take to protect nearby Parachute Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River.
The order instructs Williams to continue to pump the liquid from existing trenches and potholes, extend the trenches and excavate additional trenches as needed to reduce the threat of the liquid reaching the creek, excavate additional potholes to determine the extent of the plume, install wells to monitor the movement of the plume and routinely collect water samples and conduct daily monitoring of the deployed booms in the creek.
The EPA says Williams must submit plans addressing those required actions within seven days and also submit weekly and monthly progress reports.
Williams is already performing most, if not all of the measures required by the EPA. Company officials noted in a news release that crews are collecting samples of creek water on a daily basis and visually inspecting the creek every 30 minutes.
Any violation of the EPA order could be subject to a daily fine of as much as $37,500.
The EPA’s action follows the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s issuance of notices of alleged violation against Williams and WPX Energy.
Williams said Thursday only a sheen of hydrocarbon was recovered Thursday, while 128 barrels of contaminated groundwater — nearly 5,400 gallons — were removed.
Altogether, more than 6,000 gallons of hydrocarbon and more than 113,000 gallons of groundwater have been recovered.
Williams first discovered soil contamination March 8 in a pipeline corridor adjacent to its gas plant, which is on land owned by WPX.
It was doing pipeline location work in preparation for building a new plant.
The source of the hydrocarbon has yet to be identified, and the state, Williams and WPX have yet to agree on what to call the liquid.
State and energy industry officials say there continues to be no evidence of contamination of the creek.